Kate’s mom here again.
I thought that for all of Kate’s readers, I should finish this for her. She would hate to leave something just sitting there, with people wondering what happened. So here’s the final story, at least from my point of view.
The last post she did was in March of 2016. As you may remember, Kate was planning to go to CancerCon in May, and to see her best friend who lives in Denver.
But she was sick for all of March. She spent more time in the hospital than out of it. Finally they realized that the pain she was in was due to disease, and not treatment. More radiation was tried. The problem with radiation is that it doesn’t work all that quickly. They usually give it, and then wait 6 weeks before doing scans. The reason for this is that tumors often swell before they die, giving the appearance of growing when in fact they are dying.
April 8, 2016, Kate was supposed to go with her sister to Austin to shop for wedding dresses for her sister’s upcoming wedding. She was too sick to make the trip, so we used modern technology and she was able to live stream the shopping. We found a beautiful dress that everyone loved!
Her sister and I drove back on Sunday, and I told Kate I would come by to see her. Instead she texted me that they were out and they would come by her sister’s house to see me. They did, and I was alarmed by Kate’s appearance. One of her eyes was dilated, and the other was not. She was very shaky, walking only a few steps with a walker, and in obvious pain. So I just hugged her and told her to go home and rest, and headed home myself.
I was very tired from the weekend trip, and was in bed by 9pm. Unfortunately, my stomach got me back up at 10:15pm, so I was up when Dennis called. He said that he had called 911, and Kate was unresponsive. We were to meet him at MD Anderson, which is about 45minutes from our house.
We flew out of the house and were there by 11:15. Dennis said Kate was responding now. But she was in strange state, where I wasn’t really sure how aware she was, although she appeared to be conscious. Right as we got there they decided to draw some blood from her finger and when they poked it she sat up and yelled “Son of a B!!*ch!” She was then conscious.
The doctors wanted to run some tests (of course.) I have worked midnight shifts for years, often with no or little sleep, so I told Dennis and Kate’s dad to go to their respective homes and get some sleep, and I would stay with Kate. One thing we have learned about hospitals, even world class ones like MD Anderson, is that you don’t want to leave someone alone there. Someone must stay with the patient if you are going to get proper care.
They got Kate into a regular room pretty fast, and they came at 5:00am on Monday to take her for an MRI. I had to go along, as her answers to questions were reasonable, but not correct. The MRI took about an hour, and a nice nurse gave me a blanket and a recliner so I could sleep while I waited.
The regular oncologist (not Kate’s doctor, but the one on duty that day) came in about 9:00am and said they had the results of the MRI. We asked what it showed and she said, “Significant disease progression.” Well, I’m not a doctor but I know that is not good news. She also said that Kate’s doctor would be in to see her after 2 that afternoon. So I called the guys and told them to be back by 2:00 for the news.
Kate’s doctor showed up at about 3:00pm. She is a super sweet person, and this was very hard on her. She also said “significant disease progression.”
So Kate said, “OK, what’s our next step?”
And she said, “There is no next step. I have nothing left to offer you. I would recommend that you go home on hospice care.” And she cried and just kept saying how sorry she was.
Kate’s reaction was pure Kate: “So, we’re done then? It’s not your fault. We tried. We did everything we could. OK, I want to travel. Tell your mom I just might turn up on her front porch.”
It took a couple of days to arrange everything, but Kate went home to her apartment and her beloved pug on Wednesday. Dennis’ mom and sister were driving in from Missouri to spend that week-end. They came on Friday, and we all got together on Saturday. Kate was still having some pain that we were having a difficult time managing. We did get her out to the dog park with Hodgins on Saturday morning, and went to lunch at her favorite Mexican food place. I think she took a single bite of her food.
She was exhausted when we got her home. She went right to sleep, and as it turns out, that was the last outing she had. Dennis’ sister and mom left on Sunday morning to go back to Missouri, and I came down to help out. And as luck would have it, we had another of our famous Houston floods on Sunday night! So I stayed Monday and Monday night, and Tuesday we made arrangements to move her to our home in The Woodlands. We just needed more space than her apartment could provide, and tons of people were coming over or asking to come.
So Tuesday we brought Kate to our home. The next couple of days were rough, as her pain got worse. I’m so very grateful that Kate’s sister is a registered nurse and was a huge help in managing medications. But Kate quickly became less and less responsive. On Wednesday she was answering questions for the Social Worker. By Thursday she was not talking at all. She would only respond to her sister’s requests to swallow medications.
Her sister had also planned a Hawaiian themed party for Saturday. Since Kate couldn’t travel, we were going to bring the world to her. So on Saturday we had a house full of people. Dennis’ dad, brother and younger sister drove down for the week-end. One of Kate’s best friends from high school flew in on Friday. The trip had been planned before Kate got so sick. Kate’s co-workers called and texted and came to visit, and lots of Dennis’ friends showed up too. We got tons of flowers and Editable Arrangements. We had a house full of friends and love.
People slowly left, and the last group left about midnight on Saturday night. The Hospice had sent a nurse to spend the night, as none of us had had more than a couple of hours sleep for the last couple of weeks. So we all got to bed just after midnight.
At 1:00am the nurse, with the adorable name of “Gidget” came and woke us up and said if we wanted to say goodbye, we needed to come now. Kate was not conscious, and you could tell her breathing was shallow. She was surrounded by her husband, mother, father, sister, future brother in law, and high school friend when she quietly left us. She was peaceful, and did not appear to be in any pain or distress.
We had a beautiful service at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church. We had a Second Line band, which Kate wanted and would have loved. The service was lovely, as they let us pick out the hymns and Bible readings we wanted.
The band lead everyone to the reception with “Sumertime,” one of Kate’s favorite songs. We had a beautiful display of things that were Kate, like her wonderful shoes from Red Soles Reborn and her purse that looked exactly like her dog, Hodgins. There was great food, and I got to speak to lots of people who were telling me how Kate had changed their lives.
And now we all need to learn how to live without her in our lives. It seems an impossible feat. Mother’s Day was the week-end after her funeral, and so began our “Year of Firsts.” First Mothers’ Day. First Memorial Day. Dennis’ First Birthday. First Fourth of July. First Summer. First Winter. First Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Easter. You get the idea.
Our lives are now divided into BC (Before Cancer) and AD (After her death). When I look at old pictures I think: “Oh, this was just before it came back.”
Or, “Oh, this was our last Christmas.”
We will never get used to it, and the truth is, I don’t want to. She was an extraordinary person, and I was honored to be her mother, and to get to spend 31 years with her. I will always think of her in the present, not the past. She made a huge impact on so many lives. The world is a much poorer and darker place without her.
Nine things you probably don’t know about Kate Boone:
1. She has never had a filling. Never had a cavity! Her entire life.
2. She had to have 7 baby teeth pulled when she was 13. She couldn’t get her braces because she still had so many baby teeth. This is a family trait. I lost my last baby tooth at 17, my senior year in high school. Kate’s orthodontist thought it was best to pull hers so her permanent teeth could come in, and she could get braces.
3. She had a lovely voice and a 7 octave range. In high school she sang in all of the musicals they did. Her junior year, she played Lady Thiang in The King and I. Her senior year she sang the role of Fruma Sarah in Fiddler on the roof. It’s a small role, which made her upset because she loved the limelight. But it’s a crazy difficult role to sing. The year that Kate sang it we also saw a professional production in Forest Park in St. Louis. Kate did it better.
4. She also had perfect pitch. Sometimes it was not fun to listen to music with her because she’d sit there saying, “Sharp. Sharp. Flat. SHARP” critiquing the singer.
5. She had severe test anxiety. When we moved to Denver from Sacramento, the school she was in for 9 weeks at the end of First Grade was using a type of Kumon for their math. They would give the kids a test paper that had “math facts” like 1 +1 = ? and they had to fill it out. But it was a timed test, and they gave you only enough time to write, not to think. You had to know the answers as facts, without doing the actual math involved. The rest of the kids had been doing this all year, so it was not a big deal for them. It was for Kate. She fought test anxiety for years due to this experience.
6. She was a class officer her senior year of high school. The only reason she ran for the office was because at graduation the class officers got to walk across the stage first, with valedictorian, and she didn’t want to wait in line with everyone else! Of course, her senior year they dropped that tradition. She was annoyed.
7. She went to school in England for 6 months her junior year of college. She got to go to Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Belgium. Had a great time!
8. Since middle school she had been growing out her beautiful blond curly hair and donating it to Locks of Love, a nonprofit that makes wigs for children who have lost their hair. Her hair grew fast and she donated it at least once a year.
9. Not scared of huge crazy inmates. Scared of all insects. Even butterflies. Her high school boyfriend took her on a romantic date to the St. Louis Butterfly Pavilion.
Big mistake. Huge.