I just started my senior year at Marlette High School, but my teen years have been a pretty different experience than most other girls my age. When I was in eighth grade, I had pain in my hip for a few months. I went to a chiropractor who thought it was arthritis. When the pain did not go away, I had X-rays that showed a grapefruit-sized mass attached to my hip. I was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a cancerous tumor that is most often found in bones or nearby tissue.
I was referred to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital for care. Because the tumor was in my hip, my first experiences at Mott were with the oncology clinic and Dr. Biermann, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in orthopedic oncology. With Dr. Biermann, I underwent surgery to remove the tumor and my ilium (the large bone in your pelvis) on November 30th. I also had 13 rounds of chemo stretching from August through April. The chemo was not fun! I lost my hair and felt sick. I missed volleyball season that year.
When my chemo ended, I was cancer free for two and a half years. Then last fall during my junior year, my doctors found cancer in both of my lungs. It’s not uncommon for Ewing’s Sarcoma to spread to your lungs. This time around, since the cancer was not in my bones, Dr. Ehrlich on the pediatric surgery team removed the cancerous tissue. The team at Mott works so closely together, though, that even though I have seen many different types of providers through the Solid Tumor Oncology Program, my care has always been well-coordinated and I know I am benefiting from having so many different types of specialists all in one place, making sure I am getting the best care possible.
Unfortunately, just last month, we discovered more cancer in my right lung. I had surgery again. I won’t be able to play volleyball this year, but I’m hoping to be able to play softball in the spring. I get CT scans every three months to check for more cancer.
I’ve done some chemo inpatient at Mott and some outpatient. It’s not fun, but everyone there is really nice. I really enjoyed meeting players from the U-M sports teams and from the Detroit Lions. Having those visits really helps make your day brighter.
My family and my community have been so supportive of me. I have two older brothers who have been there for me even though they are both now in college. We live in a small town and it’s been wonderful to feel the love and support of everyone. I’m active in 4-H and this summer I won first place in showmanship for my lamb. When it came time to auction off my lamb, the community rallied behind us and drove the price up to $55/pound. For a 138-pound lamb, that was a lot of money.
Before I got sick, I thought I wanted to be a beautician and play college volleyball. Now, I want to be a pediatric nurse. I’m looking into nursing schools now. The nurses are so kind to me. I want to be able to some day help other people who are struggling with health issues. Having cancer as a kid is not easy. I’ve leaned on my family, friends and faith. Without those three things, the fight would be harder.
Take the next steps:
- Discover how you can play a part in the fight to Block Out Cancer.
- Learn more about Ewing’s Sarcoma and how it’s treated at the Solid Tumor Oncology Program at Mott Children’s Hospital.
- Find out about important research into Ewing’s Sarcoma treatment underway at Mott Children’s Hospital.
Katie Shaver lives with her parents in Kingston, Mich. Her older brothers are in college at Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University. She loves to play softball and volleyball. She’s also active in Business Professionals of America, National Honor Society, and 4-H. This summer, she showed her prize lamb at the fair.
Block Out Cancer is a rallying cry for people from all walks of life to come together to support the fight against children’s cancers. Everyone has a role to play. Learn more about how you can help Block Out Cancer.
University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” in 2014, and among the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation by Parents Magazine.