In 2018, for Kate’s birthday, Kate’s Cause awarded its very first grant check of $25,000 to Dr. Christian Hurtz, PhD, for a co-funded young investigator grant with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
This week, for Kate’s birthday, we got to meet Dr. Hurtz in person. I can’t even really describe what it was like; seeing the lab, hearing from his mentors and learning about the research. But even moreso, what truly got to us, what TRULY inspired us was watching Doctors Hurtz, Tasian and Carroll connect the personal dots to the money awarded for this grant. This research can exist because KATE LIVED.
The three of them were so generous with their time. They gladly answered questions, and asked them in return. They told us repeatedly how much it meant to them for us to be there, to take part in helping make those personal stories part of their approach. They shared stories about how this grant money allowed him to share successes and apply for (and receive!) further grants towards this research. Dr. Hurtz was awarded the 2019 American Society of Hematology Scholar Award in part…because KATE LIVED.
After visiting the lab, we toured the day hospital (what we call the clinic) at CHOP with Dr. Tasian, the Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Oncology, Center for Childhood Cancer Research. For us? Not a bad way to spend the day…not a bad way at all. We left behind a little Kate love to some of the patients we encountered (no photos for obvious reasons) but I wanted to rush in and wrap every single patient and parent in hugs. I hope our knowing glances, smiles and waves did the trick, but I wished I could have done so much more. Mike got high fives from two sweet loves in the play room, and I could have stayed all day.
They showed us the oncology and transplant unit a CHOP, a soberingly HUGE operation. Their unit was as large as our entire children’s hospital; I kid you not. We were even gifted the opportunity to talk with Dr. Gerald Wertheim, Pathologist, Hematopatholgy Lab, to hear about how his work coincides with the team at UPenn.
It was an overwhelming day. There were moments it got personally hard to take, but most of that I’ll save just for me. As we were leaving, and I looked out toward the building, knowing how many of my friends’ children were treated here, understanding that we were leaving with Kate’s Cause money in the very best hands with Dr. Hurtz and team, I felt an unquenched NEED to do more.
KATE LIVED. And I won’t rest until I’ve kept my promise.
With the utmost gratitude, I say thank you to Doctors Hurtz, Tasian, Carroll and Wertheim, for their time, care and understanding. This visit truly made an impact and I promise to do more.