Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Kathy Howard

Yesterday was the anniversary of my friend's, Kathy Howard, bone marrow transplant. She is never far from my mind and is always in my prayers. Unfortunately, her transplant was unsuccessful and she passed away in March the following year.

Three years ago we celebrated that a donor had finally been found. She had very unique HLA typing and she had to wait for a donor. We celebrated that she lived long enough to get to transplant. And we celebrated the life she would have back after transplant.

Kathy taught me about leukemia. We had only met once, very casually, when I learned that she had been diagnosed with AML. She had gone to a routine doctor visit and was in the hospital that night. She taught me about the disease, the treatments, and bone marrow transplantation. She taught me about HLA typing, what happens if there is no match, testing costs, Social Security, being immunosuppressed, and Fred Hutch.

We held a bone marrow donor drive. Although statistically highly unlikely to match Kathy, it raised awareness and hopefully will save someone else's life.

Kathy taught me about Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and the Pete Gross House. I learned about conditioning, transplant, and recovery. We would talk as she swallowed the horrible daily regimen of pills, while sitting at her dining table in her apartment at Pete Gross.

She came home too soon. She enjoyed, a loose term, her last weeks in her home in Spokane, surrounded by family, and with the help of Hospice.

She was an incredible singer and made some beautiful music after being diagnosed. She was undoubtedly most proud of the song she wrote for her husband Dan, which was played at her memorial.

Interesting how a brief introduction drew me to her. She taught me what I didn't know I would ever need to know. There have been many times when of all the people I know, I have wanted to talk to her. She knew me before I knew myself.

Kathy was a wonderful mother who absolutely adored her grandbabies. She was a devoted and loving wife to her husband. She was a special neice to her aunt and uncle, who lived next door, also in a Historical Society house. She was a good friend to many.

She was a fighter and waged a valiant fight. She was proud and chose death on her terms, dying with dignity, surrounded by love, and having taught so many the meaning of "grace". I just wish the "Social Calls" were still coming.

1 comment:

brandy corbin said...

Wish I could ease your pains! Prayers are constantly heading your way. Love you always