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A Success Story - Katrina Randolph

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Katrina Randolph

Katrina graduated from Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, Colorado, majoring in Childhood Education, with a goal of becoming a Child Life Specialist.  Katrina's cancer experience has shown her the difference a truly caring and compassionate Child Life Specialist can make in the lives of children dealing with cancer.  She is a Brain Tumor survivor.  In her own words:

ďLife isnít measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away...

When I first heard I had a brain tumor, my entire world collapsed. I was about to start my senior year! How could this be happening to me? Time stopped as I was suddenly faced with the reality that my life could be over. I was 16, and I was battling cancer.

Tears then became a close friend of mine. The next day, we went to meet Dr. Timothy George, my oncologist. After going over the x-rays, he said we were dealing with the most aggressive kind of tumor, and he had to get it out as soon as possible. I was immediately admitted to the Childrenís Hospital of Austin, Texas, to have brain surgery. Everything happened so fast that I was in shock. I didnít have time to ask questions or fully contemplate the situation. I didnít have time to argue. I didnít have time to be scared..

The surgery went well, but I was totally helpless, unable to walk or speak for very long. While in the hospital, I met my Child Life Specialist, Claudia. It was her job to counsel me and make sure I was doing okay. She told me it was okay to be afraid, it was okay to cry. I would always feel better after talking with her.  Her actions and influence would go beyond the moments we spent together ...

Time went on and I had to face the next step: radiation. After a couple weeks, my hair started falling out dramatically. Iíd watch in tears, staring at my hideous reflection, as chunks of my hair got brushed out. I had gained about ten pounds because of the steroids they had me on, and stretch marks skidded across my thighs. It was a horrible sight, watching myself deteriorate, and being able to do nothing about it.   

Every day I went in to get my radiation treatments, smiling on the outside, crumbling on the inside. Everyone kept saying I was handling it so well, that I was their inspiration. However, they didnít see the broken girl who was hiding away; in her shattered world of misery. They didnít understand how hard it was for me to plaster that fake smile on every single day. I remember a lot of tears and a lot of questions to God. I tried to stay strong though, and continue to fight until the end.  The chemotherapy was even worse. I lost 30 pounds because I threw up so much. I missed weeks of school at a time.

On December 16th, 2008, my oncologist finally deemed me cancer-free. After a few months, I started feeling better. My hair was growing back, I was at a healthy weight, and I started using my real smile again. I was finally healing. 

My goals are to help children in hospitals who are in the same situation that I was once in. I will be there for them to talk to and to support the family through this extremely tough time. For the past two years, I have been volunteering at the children's hospital and have seen just how amazing children can be, even in the most severe situations. Each one seems happy to be alive and glowing with a beautiful spirit. Every child I work with becomes my new hero. I want to make a difference in those children's lives and be an inspiration to them because they are an inspiration to me.

After almost having everything taken away from me, I realize life is precious. I thank God, who always has a plan, and even though it felt like He had given up on me, He was actually strengthening me. I value every morning I wake up, every breath I take, and even the times I am struggling, because I am still alive. I was inspired by Claudia to help other children who are in hospitals, dealing with cancer, as well as other diseases. I want to give them hope, by being an inspiration of faith and an example of a survivor. I can be the difference in their life. No matter what their prognosis, I will stand by their side and be their shoulder to cry on.

Thank you Cancer Survivors' Fund for standing by my side while I stand by theirs.Ē

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