The last 2 weeks have been excruciating. We have vacillated between so many emotions, at times barely lifting our heads and, at other times, rejoicing through tears. We have so much still to process, remember, grieve, and celebrate. As we do, we may continue to make posts to the blog for those who need or want to follow along. We anticipate posting some tributes, written by those who knew Katie in a special way. I am amazed at the number of lives touched by Katie, either through her courageous battle over this past year or through her life on a day to day basis. In some small way, it helps to know a little bit of the impact she had on the world around her.
We want to express our appreciation for so many of you. We cannot possibly send thank you notes to everyone, as we do not even know the extent to which many of you have blessed us. So many people have brought dinner, paid for groceries, given gifts to my children, cleaned, laundered, donated, encouraged. You have sent flowers, cards, money, hugs, smiles, pictures. You walked, sang, served, spoke, carried, and loved. Katie's service last Sunday was just what we wanted it to be. We wanted it to honor and celebrate her and it did. Thank you for those who were able to be there and stand with us.
Below, Chad and I have decided to attach the eulogies that we wrote for Katie's service. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to raise her, love her, and then give her back to Jesus. We were honored to speak for her.
There is a right way to live this earthly life. Jesus said it this way. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Katie had a lot of light in that little body of hers, and for 14 incredible years, she made this world brighter. Katie lived her life, loved her God, and fought her fight in such a way that people were impacted and pointed toward God, including me.
A few weeks ago while we were in Cincinnati, I was able to take her to a Broadway musical, and there’s a line in the musical that embodies Katie’s life that says, “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” I can honestly say that because I knew Katie, I’ve been changed for the better. I know that I’m the parent, but she taught me a lot about how to live life with joy, kindness, and determination.
She lived her life with such joy. She was always quick to smile, that smile that could light up a room. And she had an infectious laugh. She and I had the same sense of humor, and there were so many times when we’d start laughing at something silly to the point where we couldn’t breathe. And Sarah would just walk in the room and shake her head at us. She loved life and had a lot of fun.
Those that know Katie also know that she was a great friend. She was kind. She chose to think the best of others. She was generous and thoughtful. She was easy to like and easy to love.
Katie may have been little, but she made up for it with determination. She was as organized and disciplined as anyone I knew. In every area of her life, she had a plan. Whether it was tackling cross-country or learning volleyball or studying the Bible, she’d just set her mind to it and tackle it one step at a time. She was determined to live her life for Christ and she left this world a better place as a result.
She lived and loved well. She ran the race set before her. She’s finished her race and she’s now at home with her Savior. And I can’t wait to see her again! But until then, I encourage us to follow her lead in how we live.
Laugh more than you need to. Be more kind than is necessary. Determine to make this world brighter. That’s how Katie lived and that’s the legacy that she leaves behind for us to follow.
When Katie was first hospitalized this week last year and we were awaiting the diagnosis from pathology, I had an early morning conversation with God that was mostly me crying out in words like, “I love her” and “you can’t take her from me” and “I don’t want her to do this.” And God spoke to me in the most audible voice I have ever heard as he said, “Shhhh. This is not about you. This is her story.” I wish cancer had never been part of Katie’s story, but it was.
Later on, as we would be on our way home from a treatment of some sort, I would tell her, “Katie, I don’t know why this is your story. And I don’t know why you have to live it in front of so many people. I am so sorry that you have to do this. All I know is that God will not waste this in your life because He wastes nothing.”
The first round of treatments went so smoothly for her. She handled chemo without very many side effects or setbacks. She felt good and was still able to spend a lot of time hanging out with friends and enjoying life. We encouraged her, saying that Hodgkins is such a treatable disease that this would be a tough 6 months or so but then it would be part of her past. When she relapsed in April, just 1 month after a clean scan, she had to face her biggest fear. That her Hodgkins had come back. We spent 3 months in Cincinnati trying to get control of the cancer and some infection and, by the time she was discharged in late June, her doctors and I knew that the chance of getting her cancer into remission was almost negligible, even though we remained hopeful. But her incredible doctors gave Katie 3 good months this summer when she felt great. She spent time with many of you - hanging out, hitting a volleyball, going to Dairy Freeze. She was so happy to have the strength to do a back flip off the diving board just a few weeks ago. She put her toes in the white sand on the gulf coast of Florida and drove a go-kart when we were able to go on vacation in July. She had a super fun 14th birthday party. After missing almost her entire eighth grade year, she was so happy to start high school with her friends. She was excited at the idea of being the volleyball manager and she was so surprised when her class voted her as Freshman homecoming attendant. She loved looking at instagram and she always enjoyed seeing what everyone else was doing, even when it would sometimes make me a feel a little sad or bitter. She was sooo excited about her Make a wish trip to Hawaii. That was something that she had looked forward to for a long time as she underwent so many different treatments.
And I will tell you that she really enjoyed Hawaii. Throughout the few days we were there, she would vacillate between feeling well and feeling really crummy, but if you know Katie, she never complained. She just smiled. She had Hawaiian shaved ice for lunch a couple days. She got all dressed up for the Luau. Last Friday, she swam with dolphins at Sea Life Park. And 8 days ago, she laid on Waikiki beach beside Chad, reading a book, looking at sailboats, and wiggling her toes in the sand.
You may not know, but I have been grieving for Katie for months now. I knew my time with her was limited. And sometimes I would just get so angry at all of the things that had been robbed from her this past year. Things that were visible to others, like her hair and her presence at school and participation in activities. But also things that were known only to me or those closest to her. On Tuesday, after we returned home from Cincinnati and were in the early stages of mourning, I was alone for a minute and found myself again recounting to God all of the things that had been taken from her. And he stopped me in the middle of my list and said, “But I restored that today. I restored all of that. Today.”
And I believe He did. And I am grateful for that. I am so sad for Chad and me, for my kids, and for you. But I am happy for Katie. She has struggled against the brokenness of this world, but now she is fully redeemed. She isn’t an angel looking down or watching over us. She is Katie, just like we know and love her, enjoying Heaven so much that, frankly, I don’t think she even misses us. And in just a blink of her eye, I will be with her. And she will hug me and smile like she always does. And Katie would want me to tell you to be there too. She loved so many of you and would be so excited to introduce you to her Jesus.
Forever Cobb 7
There will be a reception with visitation on Saturday evening from 5-8pm at Winfield High School commons area. On Sunday, we will have a service to celebrate Katie's life at 4pm on the Winfield High School football field. Private burial will follow at a separate time.
Raynes Funeral Home and River Ridge Church are handling these events.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 16-18 ESV
Katie's "jar of clay" has been wracked with cancer for the better part of the past year, and even more so in the past 6 months. We were hopeful that we could escape the throes of cancer for a few days with our trip to Hawaii, but that wasn't the case. While there, Katie began to have some fevers and respiratory symptoms. So we cut the trip short and made our way back home and back to her medical team in Cincinnati late Sunday evening.
Our worst fears were realized when they told us that the cancer has aggressively overtaken her lungs again, and there are no other curative treatment options for us to pursue.
The goal now is to keep Katie as comfortable as possible. These are the hardest words I've ever written: We only have days remaining with our sweet and precious Katie.
Our hearts are heavy with grief and loss and our minds filled with questions that have no answers. Katie lived a life of selfless joy and loved so well and, from our perspective, it's a life tragically cut short.
But the foundation of our faith is the resurrection of Christ and the promise that her earthly life (and ours) is not the end. She has fought so hard and so courageously for this entire time. She has run the race set for her, she has fought the good fight, and she awaits her prize: eternity with her Heavenly Father (1 Thess 4:14). She's going home!
Father, thank you for seeing fit to give us the perfect gift of Katie for 14 years!
Forever ... The Cobb 7!
On Monday, Katie finished her last radiation treatment. For the past 3 weeks, we have been in Cincinnati Monday through Friday for radiation treatments and other appointments along the way. This round of treatments used proton therapy which delivers higher doses of radiation in a much more precise manner that does not damage the surrounding healthy tissue. There are only about 30 centers in the country that offer this therapy, and we are grateful that Katie was able to receive hers in Cincinnati. Since radiation seems to be the only treatment to which her cancer responds, we are looking forward to seeing her get back to life and school and all things teenager after this.
Although there are some aspects of radiation that are not the least bit pleasant, she tolerated it pretty well and with her usual sense of courage. On top of those, life has recently been challenging for us in other ways as well. Yet every day when Katie arrived for her treatment, she received a message from her favorite therapy dog, Chevy. This particular picture was so fun that I hung it in our kitchen for encouragement!
The most exciting news to share today is that Katie's wish has been granted! Because she is feeling very well right now, Make A Wish has decided this would be the perfect time to send Katie and the rest of the Cobb 7 to Hawaii!! With a wink and a smile (and a lot of generosity), this amazing organization has put together a fabulous trip for us next week. We look forward to sharing some fun stories and pictures with you as we replace struggles and frustration with smiles and excitement for a time!
Please continue to pray with us that all of the cancer in Katie's body would be eradicated.
Sarah and Chad and the rest of Cobb 7
The last couple weeks have been challenging for us. We have enjoyed some great celebrations around Katie's 14th birthday, along with Aaron's first football game of the season and the end of summer. But we have also received more discouraging news regarding Katie's disease. It is a daily struggle to find balance.
We originally started this blog to keep family and friends informed of what was going on with Katie and to avoid answering dozens of texts and phone calls. It then morphed into a journal of sorts, at times allowing us to share some of the emotions and questions we wrestle with. It has been both helpful and healing in those respects. God has used it in some mighty ways. But for a variety of reasons, we feel like we need to change our approach to the blog at this time.
When Jesus was preparing to go to the Cross, he took his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane and told them, "Sit here while I pray." He then went a little farther with his closest friends where he experienced more distress and trouble. As his soul became overwhelmed, he said to these friends, "Stay here and keep watch," and Jesus went on even farther. At varying levels of this garden, his friends were to wait and pray while he continued on.
This is what we ask you to do as well. We must keep going farther, but we ask you to stay and pray. At this time, we respectfully ask that you don't press us for details. Suffice it to say that we need your prayers. Many of you have been faithful and fervent in your prayers for us. Thank you! Continue to care for us, think and pray for us, hope for us. Smile, hug, encourage, be present.
We may not be updating the blog as frequently as we have been, but our prayer remains the same: that God would see fit to heal our Katie. Until we update again, we simply ask that you join us in praying toward that end.
Thanks for going so far with us. Thanks for staying and praying.
Chad and Sarah and the Cobb 7
Last Thursday was the first day back to school for our kids. We have two in high school, two in elementary school and a preschooler. I guess the middle school gets a reprieve from the Cobbs for this year.
Katie started her freshman year with the rest of her peers. It was a long day for sure, but she hung in there. She continues to show us what courage really looks like ... one day at a time. She plans to be in school as much as possible, although we will continue to make frequent trips to Cincinnati. Immunotherapy does not lower her ability to fight infections but the newly added medication may, so we will continue to monitor her white blood cell counts and adjust accordingly. She is very social and driven, so it's important to her to be in school. The great thing is that because it is important to her, it is also important to her doctors. They are compassionate to her desires and do their best to make those things possible for her. They are the ones who suggested we go on vacation so that Katie could get her toes in the sand when we didn't think that was an option. They arranged an unscheduled visit last week so that she could get home in time to be ready for her first day. They hug her and sit on the bed with her and look at her pictures. They are such a blessing to us during this ridiculously painful season.
We head back to Cincy later this week for a couple appointments on Thursday. She will receive her next immunotherapy infusion as well as planning for proton radiation. If the risk/benefit analysis for radiation is in her favor, we will begin those treatments in early to mid September. All parties involved feel that this is a necessary intervention, and we would like to see it happen sooner rather than later.
Some prayer requests:
- for endurance for Katie as she goes into each day of school, another day of treatments, and the dreaded experience of radiation. She told Aaron one day that it was like lying on concrete for half an hour.
- for endurance for Chad and me. We are trying our best to keep life in our house as normal as possible but the extra weight we carry is exhausting most days and overwhelming the rest.
- for the immunotherapy to build momentum as it works in her body. Katie's cancer is very aggressive. We need this therapy to be even more aggressive.
Thanks for fighting with us.
Sarah and Chad and all of Cobb 7
After a couple days of scans and appointments, we came home from Cincinnati with a reality check. We definitely have reasons to celebrate. The improvement in Katie's lungs is incredible. The radiation in conjunction with the Keytruda has done an amazing job of clearing out the numerous nodules invading her lung space. For that we are so grateful. This has allowed Kate to be home, walking, laughing, keeping up with physical therapy and experiencing no visible symptoms.
The scans also reminded us that Katie's cancer is very aggressive. It has not backed down or submitted yet. Outside of the lungs, there is still very strong evidence of the Hodgkins. The next step will be to add another agent to be taken at home which may augment the immunotherapy. We also plan to go back to the proton radiation (the more precise radiation which was postponed previously) in the next few weeks. In the meantime, Katie will be enjoying the last couple weeks of summer before starting her freshman year at Winfield High School.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. . . So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 18)
We don't know about tomorrow, but today can still be a good day.
We continue to pray for complete healing for Katie.
Sarah and Chad and the rest of Cobb 7
Last week we were blessed to go on a vacation that we didn't plan to have this summer. Once Katie got her little self out of the hospital, she really wanted to get her toes in the sand! Thanks to some friends and a big thumbs up from her oncologist, we spent a week in Florida and really enjoyed our time together. We even sat back and listened to some of the fussing between kids with a little appreciation.
Just before we left, Chad spoke at River Ridge Church for the first time since before Easter. He shared some of the struggles we have had and things we have learned. If you have half an hour one day, you can listen in on that below.
We will head back to Cincinnati later this week as Katie has a CT and PET scan on Thursday. This will be her first set of diagnostic scans since she started immunotherapy about 7-8 weeks ago. We will meet with her oncologist on Friday to discuss results and she will receive her next immunotherapy infusion. To look at Katie, she looks incredible! We want to be hopeful that the internal images will match her external appearance, but we have this fear that we carry around with us. Scan anxiety we call it. It's hard to live with some days.
Please pray this week
- for a smooth IV insertion, labs, scan and infusion
- for results that show the cancer is responding to this treatment
- for clarity regarding next steps in the treatment plan
- for peace
Chad and Sarah and the Cobb 7
There is this place between fear and hope. We have all been there at times, even if we are unaware, either leaning toward hope or toward fear.
I live here now. In this place, acutely aware of each day, each opportunity, each interaction. While 'normal' swirls around me, I stand frozen in this space. Do I move into the next day, next week, next month, as if Katie is cured just because her hair is growing again and she can walk around the street? Or do I put an anchor in today, indulging my kids' every request because I don't know what tomorrow will bring?
If you want the answer, you can stop reading. I have no idea how to do this. I am figuring this out as we go along. For today, that means taking my kids on an amazing vacation and enjoying every minute with just the Cobb 7. We move forward each day. We can't see the future but, the truth is, neither can you. We are just maybe a little more aware of the space we live in now.
Katie had appointments in Cincinnati twice this week. It is a drive we know well by now, but I enjoy it more with her in the car beside me (even if she wears her Beats the entire time). She had another infusion of Keytruda, her immunotherapy medication. The one that was approved for children less than a month before her relapse. Her oncologist is thrilled with everything she sees clinically. In a couple weeks, she will get her first diagnostic scans since starting immunotherapy and finishing radiation. For now, the plan is to continue these infusions every three weeks with labs, check ups, physical therapy and good days in between.
We are hopeful. And fearful. We do our best to lean toward hope.
But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.
Sarah and Chad and the Cobb 7