Chemo strengthens child’s resolve | WBEZ
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Chemotherapy strengthens child's positive outlook

Several years ago Ann Adams and her husband found themselves in the middle of every parent’s nightmare: Their young daughter Katie was born with a disease that causes brain tumors and had the potential to blind her in one eye, if left untreated.

Adams and her husband had to make a decision – Katie could undergo more than a year of chemotherapy or run the risk of going blind in one eye.

They chose to go with chemotherapy and she endured fourteen months of treatment.

Adams recently joined Katie, 12, in the StoryCorps Booth at Chicago’s Cultural Center.

“If I had had chemotherapy as a 16-year-old that’d be different, because I’m older, I’m more mature,” Katie says, “but as a pre-schooler, it’s just kind of unimaginable.”

Katie today is cheerful and happy. She survived the traumatizing experience but retained a positive outlook.

“When I smile, other people smile, and it just makes me happy,” Katie says.

When she was younger and she noticed her mom looking stressed, she told her, “I’m not going to die.”

Adams says that’s like Katie, who is always looking out for other people. The hospital staff fought to care for Katie as a patient.

Adams and her daughter’s memories focus on different details: Katie remembers putting anesthesia masks on her teddy bear and pretending she was the doctor.

Adams remembers changing Katie’s bandages each week and distracting her with books-on-CD.

Recently, Adams offered her daughter a surgery to get rid of a scar on her thumb. But Katie wanted to keep it as a reminder.

She says she wants to remember what really happened so that when she’s an adult, she won’t be making any details up

“A reminder so that if I do have children I don’t want them to go through what I went through as a kid,” Katie says.

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