First and foremost, I am Kate’s aunt and I love that sweet, silly and sassy little girl so very much. I had the unfortunate experience of being somewhat knowledgeable about how underfunded pediatric cancer is before Kate was even born as I have two friends who have had their kids go through treatment. When Kate was diagnosed, I learned so much more, and became even more outraged by the injustice.
I am the mother/step mother of three pretty cool teenagers, Alex, Jillian and Garrett and to one newly-minted college student, Bryce, and I am the wife of a moderately cool husband, Michael. Most importantly here, I am Lindsay’s sister, Mike’s sister-in-law, and Kate’s aunt. I hold B.A. degrees in English and History from Florida State University, have served on numerous charitable boards and committees in my small city of Ocala, Florida, including President of The Junior League of Ocala, PTA/ PTO President and Treasurer of both the elementary and middle schools my kids have attended. I am currently a part time employee of a local boutique print shop, which has been a part of our community for 30 years.
Being so far away from my sister, niece and the rest of our Virginia family, I relished the daily phone calls I had with my mom when she would keep me up to date on the highs and lows of Kate’s treatment…from bad steroids days to the excitement of being able to leave the house for a fun outing and finding joy in the middle of all the fear and anxiety. Then as Kate started becoming more verbal, phone chats and FaceTime with Kate, herself.
The phrase “Hi Aunt Jamie” in the most enthusiastic voice ever will remain one of my most treasured memories. I always knew what “week” it was in her treatment and, like the rest of my family, counted down the weeks until it was over. No matter what, I was confident that while this period of her life was difficult, everything was going to be okay.
On January 12, 2016, that optimism was gone forever. The crushing feeling in my heart is something I still can’t articulate…looking into the faces of my then 12 and 15-year-old kids and telling them that the cousin they loved but had barely been able to spend any time with was gone forever. What do you say? What do you say to your baby sister, the most amazing mother, who just lost her baby? There really aren’t any words.
There still aren’t, but at least now there’s action. I am honored to be asked to serve on the Board of Kate’s Cause. The love and passion Lindsay and Mike, and all of us have for Kate will drive us to do more, for her and for all of the kids like her, Until Childhood Cancer Is Extinct.