Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Truth about Metastatic Breast Cancer

It’s a simple, grassroots initiative started by my friend, Beth. STOMP OUT BC, taking a day to educate the world about metastatic breast cancer through social media. The only breast cancer that kills. Another dear online friend, Nancy, started featuring statistics and women living with metastatic breast cancer on Monday’s months ago, calling it #MetsMonday. The community has combined both campaigns and created a #MetsMonday to “pink out” the world with trending hastags to make the everyone aware of what MBC is, and what it is like living with a terminal disease. No more ignoring Stage IV, we are waging war on Stage IV.

What is Metastatic Breast Cancer?

Metastatic Breast Cancer is also known as Stage IV Breast Cancer or Advanced Breast Cancer. It is cancer that has spread beyond the breast, through the lymphatic system and to other organs or bones in the body. It is not yet known exactly why or how breast cancer spreads. Once the cancer leaves your breast and spreads other places, patients live an average of 2-5 years. Younger women (diagnosed between 15-29) have a median survival rate of 16% for 5 years, according to a publication from the National Cancer Institute in 2006.

Not much research is done on Metastatic Breast Cancer patients, researchers assume there is about 155,000 women and men living with advanced breast cancer. Of those, less than 5% are initially diagnosed Stage IV. 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and of those, 1 in 3 of them will have their breast cancer spread, even after their initial surgery and treatments. 40,000 women will die each year, and that number has remained about the same for the past 20 years.

But, the world is aware of breast cancer so why aren’t more women surviving?

I couldn’t honestly tell you. Just because the world is aware and we have pink events, eat pink foods, and buy pink products doesn’t mean all of that money is going to fund research of advanced breast cancer. Millions upon millions of dollars are spent every year on “awareness”. Fundraisers cost money, travel to events cost money, making pink awareness products cost money . . . all of which makes us look pretty in pink. Unfortunately, looking pretty doesn’t matter much to those with Stage IV Breast Cancer. About 2-7% of funding from some of the leading breast cancer organization is spent on actually finding a cure. The majority of donations are spent on awareness. You cannot find a school, event, drink, storefront or person in October that either isn’t sporting pink or doesn’t know about breast cancer. Even our NFL teams wear pink during games and sell pink towels and shirts, in hopes to bring more awareness to the disease . . . Awareness is not the key to survival, action is.

What about “Early Detection”?

Early detection can me a doubled edged sword. Great to detect early, great to get a jump on treatment; that is if you are over 50. Women under 50 are not eligible for mammograms. 30-40% of women (of any age) that were diagnosed at an early stage (Stage 1, 2 or 3) will develop metastatic breast cancer either months, 2 years, 5 years or even 10 years after their original diagnosis. Early detection does not cure cancer and can be inconsequential to those who will metastasize. The amount of money spent on early detection campaigns will not cure cancer or find out why this disease spreads and does not help the younger population of breast cancer patients.

What does living with advanced breast cancer mean?

Well, if you haven’t read my blog before, I am very open about my journey. If you want a raw, open and honest view at what living with this disease is like, I highly encourage you to read through my posts. In one post, I compare living with advanced breast cancer as walking through a revolving door and in this post I confess my uncensored feelings on my life. Since there is no cure, a majority of women and men living with advanced breast cancer will be in a treatment for the rest of their lives. We deal with the debilitating side effects of cancer, treatments and society. The side effects range from pain to emotional instability, from surgery and exhaustion to death.

I’ve grown close to a lot of women. I call them my friends, my sisters, my breasties. Many I have not met, some I have. I have listened and watched them suffer, I have heard of their woes, saw them cry, held their hands, texted feverishly, and watched die. I have watched many friends die. That’s what it’s like to live with terminal breast cancer.

With the permission of some other courageous women, I am sharing what their views are on living with MBC:

I look "normal" but on the inside I'm sicker than most people can imagine.” – Tricia

Having MBC means, my 5 babies will eventually loose me. I won’t be there to comfort them, at the time they need me most' – Clare

“Having MBC means I never get a break from treatments and side effects” – Nicole

“MBC sucks. I'm 31 but feel like I'm 50 with aches and pains from extensive bone mets. I want/need a cure!” – Chrissy

“Having MBC means I have a whole new appreciation for life. Being faced with death on a daily basis is a fear like no other. Not knowing if you will see your children grow up is more excruciating than any physical pain. One that others cannot possibly know” – Kelly

“Metastatic breast cancer means to me pushing forward when the pain is unbearable. ....getting out of bed when in fact I want to sleep all day. Volunteering at my daughters' schools just because they want me there. ....planning my funeral in my mind while telling no one my dark thoughts.......” – Gina

“There is a 22% chance I'll live 5 years... My daughters will be 20. 5 years is NOT enough!” – Beth

“One word for MBC is HOPE! I hope my scans are ok, I hope I make it to next Christmas, I hope this treatment is working, I hope I can get out of bed tomorrow, I hope my daughter will be ok without me, HOPE” – Rebekah

“For my 40th birthday I got Stage 4 breast cancer. At the time my seven children were 16 and younger. There is nothing more painful than looking into your children's eyes and knowing that you are not going to be there for them.”- Tracy

“Holidays are supposed to be happy, joyful times spent with family and friends. However, I usually feel an overwhelming sadness because I can't help but think it may be my last.” – Blaike

“On the outside, I smile & look great. On the inside, I cry because I'm rotting bone, one lymphnode, one organ at a time.” – Kim

“Finding the strength to fight for my family day in and out knowing that I'm a ticking time bomb. My body will either start shutting down or I will run out of treatment options. Neither of the options suffice when I have a 2 year old that needs his mom.” –Adrienne

“Try to live like everyone else but know I can't. Always wondering if my treatment is working. As a single mom I worry for my boys (12&9) and what will happen if I die sooner than later.”- Maria

“MBC is rearranging your life to accommodate the "new normal" of forever treatments of reoccurring cancer.” – Bethany

“Cancer may define the way I will die, but it will not define the way I live'” – Tracy

“My daughters were 2 & 3 years old when I was diagnosed at 37 years old. Every day is a fight to remain emotionally strong. This picture was taken on Mother's Day- 2 days before I was diagnosed with Stage3c Breast Cancer which metastasized and spread to my bones during my initial treatment.” – Amy B.

“The continual toll it takes on one’s mind, body & spirit & ones family while trying to consume us" I will always have faith, hope & strength to stay positive & not let it consume me” – Shannen

“MBC isn't about winning or getting well soon; only perseverance despite the odds.” – Amy A.

How do we find a cure then and why is this so important?

Let your voice be heard! Join us this Monday to STOMP OUT BC. Don’t let advanced breast cancer be the elephant in the pink room- post about, talk about, share our stories! Help trend our hashtags #MetsMonday , #BCKills , #DontIgnoreStageIV and #WageWarOnStageIV . No matter what you call it, Metatstic Breast Cancer, Stage IV Breast Cancer, Advanced Breast Cancer or Terminal Breast Cancer- those are the only breast cancers that are killing our mothers, sisters, daughters, fathers and brothers. What you need to do is make sure that our society doesn’t buy in to the pink-washing, and that funds are donated to research foundations and institutions dedicated to working on why cancer spreads and how to cure it.

This is important because I want to live, all the women I posted quotes from above- they want to live. I want to live to see my kids grow, I want to grow old with my husband and I want my parents to die long before I do. The thousands of women with little children or grandchildren want to live. We don’t want a life riddled with appointments, pains and heartaches and we sure as hell don’t want our children or loved ones to either.  Finding a cure is important because life is important.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I'll Love You Forever


It’s seen me at my best moments. It’s seen me at my worst moments. It’s been the toughest, most rewarding, horribly-best role I have ever had. Motherhood is the crazy-hide-in-the-bathroom-wanna-run-away-heart-so-full-of-joy-indescribable kinda love. I’ve just always wanted to be that perfect Mom. It’s what I strived for.

I don’t know what made me value my motherhood by a series of achievements and busyness but I became the Mom that everyone asked “How do you do it?” Looking back, what I really hoped for was someone to sit me down and said “Listen crazy, take it down a notch”. Social media has been a double edged sword in my motherhood journey. It’s been great to connect with other Mom’s, but a constant pressure of how to raise your kids was exhausting. You could read everywhere and see every other Mom, and they told you how to feed your kids, organize your house, schedule your time, decorate, craft, and even spend time with your kids. Did I really need to read about how I should spend time with my kids? No . . . but I did because society made me feel that I wasn’t good enough. I was so obsessed with being the best Mom that I could be that I couldn’t see how much I was actually missing. I didn’t have time for much, including myself or my health.

Go back 3 years. I cleaned every day. I mean I cleaned. Every. Day. I made dinner every day. We barely had money to eat, let alone eat out, but I made 3-4 course dinners. EVERY. DAY. And we ate only on glass plates with silverware that needed to be washed every day. The kids made a craft at least twice a week. I made sure they had “learning time” to work on knowing ABC’s, writing their names, knowing their shapes and colors. I had to bathe them every other day. We lived on a schedule. I was a mix between Captain Hook, a Marine and Martha Stewart. Holiday’s had to be elaborate. I decorated for every season. My house had to look good. My kids had to look good. I had to look good. But no matter how much I did, or how engrossed I was in those routines . . . I never felt like I was living up to my own expectations.

And then my world came crashing down. 2 years ago, a doctor walked in to my hospital room and told me my breast cancer, which we had found out about just two weeks before, had actually spread all over my body. That I likely would never be cured and that they would try to save my life. I didn’t care about being perfect anymore. I didn’t care how clean my house looked, if I made dinner, if we ate off of paper plates, if the kids bathed, if I bathed- being perfect doesn’t matter when you’re very existence is threatened.

Time mattered. Moments mattered. Memories mattered.

All of the sudden, I wasn’t just going through the motions of life. I was living them. Really living them. The wind was like a hug from God himself. The beauty in my twins stopping to smell flowers made me not worry about getting places on time. We slowed down. I appreciated a messy house filled with toys. A book became more than a book. It was an intricate story with real meaning.

I’ll love you forever

I’ll like you for always

As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.

I took Stephen out for lunch, who is healing great by the way, and an elderly woman and her older son sat behind us. It reminded me so much of that book. Here I was, being driven crazy by this little boy and yet being so incredibly in love with him. The son helped his mother with her jacket, helped her sit down and they sat and talked as they ate. When they were done, he helped her up, put her jacket on and helped her out the door. Maybe God opened up my eyes to that because I will never have it. I may never have it, but I appreciated that occasion. In that instant I knew, it didn’t matter how perfect that Mother was, or how clean her house was, or how she spent time with her son- he loved her, unconditionally, just the way she was. 

The words took on a form to prepare my kids for the day I wouldn’t be around. Someday, I will die, we all will die. Hopefully, God will grant me a miracle and let me stay around for another 50 years, but if not I am okay with that. I am learning to trust that whatever may come to be will be. I appreciate more of motherhood than ever before because of this. I always feared I wasn’t perfect enough, but I am perfect. I am perfectly imperfect. And that is okay with God, and it’s okay with my kids . . . and it’s okay with me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Keeping My Eyes Above the Waves

It’s been a crazy past two months. Steve had his surgery in late November and did great. It was really nice having him home for the holidays. I spent the month of December focusing a lot on the kids. Stephen turned 5 and we had a big party for him. Followed it with tons of Christmas activities and prepping. We had a superbly blessed Christmas. I was in awe over the twinkle in each of my children’s eyes for the magic the time of year brings. Everything was made good again. My marriage and motherhood seemed stronger than it has been in years. 

January brings up many emotions for me. Not only was Stephen scheduled for surgery but I had my first mammogram and breast ultrasound in January- my biopsy, my diagnosis; it’s also the birthday of a daughter who is no longerwith me, and her “angelversary”, along with memories of her funeral and burial . . . oh,  and it’s mine and Steve’s birthday. That’s a whole lotta crap to deal with in one month.

Stephen’s surgery went great. He was hospitalized for a couple days and discharged home. He healed up quick and has been doing great after his liquid-only diet. He is now on soft foods now and can have solids again in a month. We have been very busy with genetic appointments and follow up appointments with him. He has many tests and more appointments in the spring.

I had my scans at the beginning of the month as well. Everything was stable- no regression and no progression. I do have some gallstones, which could be drug induced, and may need my gallbladder out if I have another attack. The compression fracture in my back is possibly pinching a nerve down to my foot and makes it hard to walk. I am loading up on more medication to help with that. Since putting me back on chemo wouldn’t really do much of anything, I am still able to continue my break from chemo- it’s been one year and I love it. I go every couple weeks for my maintenance infusions, which help keeps my cancer at bay. I still deal with the perfuse swelling of my optic nerve as well and will follow up with that doc soon. I am going to be getting another port and have been working with the dermatologist to help rid my body of any staph that may have been lingering after my repeated infections. I feel okay though. I definitely am still not how I used to be, but, I am slowing accepting the fact that I won’t ever be that go-get-it person again.

It’s been 2 years since I was diagnosed. The average survival rate for a woman my age with advanced breast cancer is 18-24 months, and a less than 15% chance of surviving 5 years. I am officially on borrowed time. I am happy to be around another year and yet absolutely scared shitless to see what the next year may bring.

I’ve been asked before if I am “over” different things. Am I “over” the death of my daughter, “over my diagnosis”, am I moving on from grief and cancer? Honestly, no, I am not over or moving on from anything. I am living through it. I have been living through it since she died and since I was diagnosed. There’s no other way. 11 other months out of the year I am fine. I can do okay; my grief isn’t raw, it doesn’t consume me, but it still lives within me. And when January comes, I cannot help but suffer through those moments all over again. January makes me question so much. I cannot understand why I was chosen to walk this path.

It comes down to one thing: trust. Do I trust in God enough to know that all things will work out for the good? Can I trust that I don’t have to worry, just pray? I won’t lie, when the ocean’s rise, it’s hard for me to keep my eyes above the waves and focus on Christ. But the minute I take my eyes off of Him, I sink. I try though, I try so hard. I get so shaken, and I feel so worn. I try to make sense of it all. There has to be a reason, after all. At least that’s what everyone always tells me. There’s a reason it happened, and only the Lord knows; but I want to know why. I can hear Him telling me to just trust and not rely on my understanding; to stop trying to figure out the chaos. He reminds me I have strong roots, the waves and wind won’t break me. Sometimes I hear loud and clear, and it’s a great feeling, but sometimes I can’t help but doubt the plans. And you wouldn’t know what that’s like unless you have walked in my shoes and have experienced these kinds of tragedies. You have no idea how I pray for peace so that my faith doesn’t have to suffer or have an ounce of doubt. It’s so damned hard some days . . .

I turn 31 today. I’m here another year. I am extremely thankful to be here still. My next year I plan on fixing my eyes on my relationship with Christ, loving on my hubby, spoiling my babies and crossing some things from my mommy bucketlist. I won't get over anything, I'll continue working through it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Crew Mission volunteers will decorate home of Rostraver family

By Chris Buckley Staff Reporter 
Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, 11:24 a.m.

Kate Crawford was thankful to have the holidays to spend with her family.
But a literal bad break threatened to crush their holiday spirit. And although the season had ended for a locally-based mission, The Crew Missions Inc. stepped in to preserve the holidays for the Rostraver family.
On Saturday, volunteers will decorate the Crawford home for Christmas.
After learning her husband, Stephen, would be laid up for weeks with a broken fibula in his leg and a torn ACL and meniscus in his knee – plus surgery – Kate Crawford contacted Crew Missions founder Judi Robbins.
“As soon as he got hurt, I said, ‘I need help with the Christmas lights.' I know it's not the season (for The Crew Missions), but I need help. I can't do it myself,'” Crawford said.
Crew Missions is a faith-based volunteer program that helps people with small projects in and around their homes in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area.
Robbins said public support has grown because most people in the Valley are aware of Kate Crawford's story.
The Rostraver woman created a Mommy Bucket List after being diagnosed last year with stage IV breast cancer. It has since spread to her spine and pelvis.
Crawford and her husband have 6-year-old twin daughters, Grace and Lily, and a son, Stephen, 4.
Robbins said The Crew Missions season ended in October, but she was touched by Crawford's request.
“I knew in my heart I could not leave her hanging with no help,” Robbins said. “I felt the need to organize it. We're aware of the family needs.”
Robbins sought help from friends in the Greater Rostraver Chamber of Commerce, family members and Valley residents. About a dozen have volunteered, although others are welcome. To help, call Robbins at 412-708-7328.
“It's turning into a community effort of people coming together to bless the Crawford family,” Robbins said.
The volunteers will meet Saturday at the couple's Rostraver house to decorate and hang Christmas lights.
Some volunteers will do crafts with the Crawford children.
“At Christmastime, everybody wants the spirit of Christmas to remain,” Robbins said. “If we can give a little bit of time … that's what Christmas is about.”
The group formed in 2012 as The Crew. It was based at the Crossroads Community Church of Jefferson Hills.
“One day, one person told us we were a great crew mission within the community, and it just clicked for me,” Robbins said of the name change.
Robbins serves as president and secretary of the nonprofit charity, which is overseen by a seven-member board.
“We have remained faith-based,” Robbins said. “We pray with the homeowners, and we will pray with volunteers and witness with them.”
The Crew Missions' volunteers perform such tasks as pulling weeds, trimming hedges, painting homes, mulching and laying stone.
The group works Saturdays from April through October.
“The majority of the homeowners are elderly with medical conditions, but we have helped younger homeowners who are financially struggling and working so much they do not have time, or are taking care of family members who are ill,” Robbins said.
This year, The Crew Missions helped 18 homeowners.
It is always seeking contributions, whether monetary or tools. Gift cards are welcome because they can be used to replace tools.
“All funds are used to keep the organization going and help homeowners,” Robbins said.
Kate Crawford said the family feels blessed by the outpouring of support.
“We're so thankful, especially with it being Thanksgiving week,” Crawford said. “We really needed the help. It's hard having Steve out because he's the one that does things when I can't.”
Crawford said she was worried how the holidays would work out for her family, especially her children.
“This makes their Christmas,” said Crawford. “When we normally decorate the Christmas tree and put up the lights, they are so excited. It is such a magical time with them.
“I am so thankful to be around for another holiday and have the opportunity to spend it with them.”

Monday, November 17, 2014

I just want a break.

A break.

It’s the only thing I’d like. A span of 3 months where I didn't worry about cancer, doctor’s appointments, surgeries, medicine, therapies or anything else but my kids, my husband, my dog, my home and my family. You know, those normal things people worry about- I’d like to worry about that. Apparently it’s too much to ask for.

The last time I left you, I was starting physical therapy for my hip metastases and a compression fracture in my spine. Getting a second opinion for a double mastectomy would be on hold for a couple months. Well, it’s going to be a lot longer than that now . .

Our dog started not doing so well after one of her shots in September. We had her to the vet every other day for weeks trying to figure out what was plaguing her. She started itching, became lethargic, was losing hair; we just couldn't figure out what was causing it and nothing was helping. After about 3 weeks, she was diagnosed with an immune disease which was causing her to not be able to control skin mites (which every dog, animal and human have). Thus causing a severe skin infection. For a month straight she needed doses of Benadryl, Pepcid (because she wouldn't eat) her antibiotics, her medication to treat the mites, and a bath every other day. She has gotten skin scrapes every 6 weeks along with new doses of medication, which causes neurological side effects. She won’t be deemed “cured” until it has been one year since her last clear skin scrape. We were finally able to get her scheduled for a spay that we had to put on hold because of her infection. She has been doing better lately, but the added stress of a dog with special needs was a lot to handle. 

As if the cancer and the dog weren't enough to make me crazy, I was also trying to figure out why it seemed that Stephen wasn't making any improvements with his speech. I’m going to skip over exactly how this came to be and get to point. We took Stephen down to the hospital for an evaluation, where we found out that he had a submucous cleft palate. The boy has had numerous doctors, therapists and specialists in his mouth since he was born and it took this guy all of 2 minutes to diagnosis him. Of all the times I felt like a horrible mother for putting my health first and not his, for blaming myself for him not making improvements, feeling wretched about him getting kicked out of therapy for not improving- it was all answered in one day and I realized: it wasn’t anything I’ve done. I didn’t fail him. The specialist said no matter what we would have or wouldn’t have done, he would have never made any improvements. In fact, since this was caught so late, therapy has had the reverse effect on him, actually making his speech worse. Now the problem lies in that Stephen only knows the incorrect way to produce sounds because he has compensated for so long trying to make the right ones. I just cried. I was happy to know and devastated at the same time. He will have surgery in January, which is a simple surgery. It’s the recovery that will be tough. He will be in the hospital for a little bit and on a liquid only diet for 2-3 weeks. Then he will move to a puree diet for 2-3 weeks, all while he is in arm braces so that he does not stick anything in his mouth. If he is cleared at a 3 month post op checkup then he will have to go in to intensive speech therapy- where he will have to re-learn how to speak all over again. His recovery time will be around 6+ months. Given our family history, and Stephen’s extensive list of different diagnoses, it was suggested that he be tested for a genetic mutation called 22Q Syndrome.  The deletion or duplication of the 22Q chromosome could be the result of over 200 varying disorders. Some children may only have a few, and some kids many. Given Shannon’s history of the heart and diaphragm defect, Stephen will need an echo-cardiogram to check his heart. We will have some baseline labs drawn and then he will meet with a genetic team in January to discuss the syndrome and have a special panel drawn to check for chromosomal abnormalities. If this is what he does have, then it means a long road ahead of us. 

I have been so busy scheduling appointments for Stephen that I have been working on this blog post for over a month. I waited so long in fact, that it seemed that more things just piled on top. Steve had been having a lot pf pain in his knee for a while and I finally made him an appointment to go get checked out. Yeah- he has a fractured fibula and torn meniscus and ACL. He is in a brace and off work now for 7 weeks. He has surgery tomorrow.

Did I mention Molly has surgery Thursday? Oh and SJ's echo-cardiogram down at Children’s at the crack of dawn the same day. Aandddd I got a call from my Endroconologist that said I was in menopause. Dude, I’m 30. And menopause sucks. This all sucks.

Everybody says “You’ll be fine”, “This will pass”, and “You’re strong”. I know all those things. However, don’t you think it’s a bit much? I am losing my damned mind! Literally losing my mind- I lost my car keys a couple weeks ago and had a complete meltdown like a 2 year old's temper tantrum.

I just want a break. I’m not sure why this has been the icing on the cake for me thus far, but I have a lot of questions that I normally didn’t care to understand. I don’t understanding suffering or grief. I don’t understand why some go their whole lives with no tragedy and others, like myself, are modern day Jobs. I can handle one thing at a time but not twenty. I am finding myself slipping back in to a depression. There is so much going on. Too much. It’s hard to remember things. It’s hard to enjoy things. It’s hard to get motivated. It's just hard to live.

There’s oncologists in Hawaii, right? I want to take a break there.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Belle Vernon Mom and Breast Cancer Survivor Recognized with National Award

Belle Vernon Mom and Breast Cancer Survivor Recognized with National Award 

Kate Crawford is one of eight women named as a 2014 Pink Power Mom

ATLANTA, (Oct.1, 2014) – The Kids II Foundation’s Pink Power Mom network has named

Kate Crawford as a 2014 Pink Power Mom. Joining seven other moms and breast cancer

survivors from the United States and Canada, Crawford was selected for persevering through her

battle with breast cancer and for her efforts to help others in their fights. All eight Pink Power

Mom honorees have worked to positively impact their local communities by using their breast

cancer fight as a catalyst to make a difference.

Crawford lost her first daughter when she was only three days old. This prompted her to start a

non-profit to help grieving parents. Following that heartache, she had twins (now five) and a son

(now four).  In 2013, Crawford was diagnosed with breast cancer and was only given a 30

percent chance of survival. Since then, she has poured her energy into raising funds for her

cancer center, fighting her disease and completing her “mommy bucket list.” Her blog, The

Chronicles of Cancer, is read and respected in the worldwide cancer community.

“Kate was selected because of her insight and immediate outreach to address a community need,

while just beginning her own journey with breast cancer,” said Heidi Floyd, Pink Power Mom

Executive Director. “The network’s pay-it-forward award will empower Kate to continue her

wonderful mission.”

The Pink Power Mom award includes a $5000 donation to the winner’s charity of choice. Kate’s

donation will benefit the Women’s Cancer Research Center at Magee-Womens Research

Institute and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. The Women’s Cancer Research

Program is dedicated to reducing the incidence and death from women’s cancers across the

world. This mission is achieved through the development and fostering of vibrant basic,

translational and clinical research aimed at translating novel discoveries into improved patient


"I am honored to be chosen as part of an elite group of women dedicated to breast cancer

research and support. I may have cancer, but it will never stop me from feverishly working on

raising funds to find a cure,” Kate Crawford said.

Crawford will be honored with all eight of the 2014 Pink Power Moms during the Pink &

Powerful weekend celebration in Atlanta, Ga., hosted by Kids II, in February of 2015.

Nominations to join the Pink Power Mom network begin on Mother’s Day every year. Selected

moms are announced every October, during Breast Cancer Awareness month. For more

information, visit or

About the Kids II Foundation

The Kids II Foundation was established by Kids II in 2006 to advance the company’s

commitment and passion to making a difference in the communities in which employees work

and live.  Through partnerships with charitable organizations, volunteer efforts and donating toys

to children in need, the Kids II Foundation is able to make a profound and lasting positive impact

in the lives of children and their families.  The Kids II Foundation donates over a quarter of a

million dollars annually to charities worldwide, including Pink Power Mom – a non-profit

created by the Foundation to make a global change in the cancer community by rewarding moms

and breast cancer survivors making a difference.

About Kids II, Inc.

Kids II has a 40-year history of developing industry-changing innovations for families across the

globe and has quickly becoming a world-leading baby and infant product company. The brand

portfolio strength runs deep with seven brands under the Kids II umbrella: Bright StartsTM,

IngenuityTM, Comfort & HarmonyTM, DisneyTMBaby EinsteinTM, OballTM and TaggiesTM. Through

its brands, Kids II is a powerhouse of creativity, diversity and innovation, uniquely matching the

individual needs of every parent and baby. Headquartered in Atlanta, Kids II spans globally with

13 global offices in six continents serving customers in more than 72 countries.

Learn more about Kids II, like our Facebook page, or connect with us on LinkedIn.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Rostraver mom continues to set goals despite battle with cancer

Rostraver mom continues to set goals despite battle with cancer

Jim Ference | Trib Total Media
Kate Crawford gets a hug from her kids Stephen 4, Lily 6, and Grace 6, on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 as they look over pictures of a kick ball tournament that was held on her behalf.

By: Chris Buckley
Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, 12:56 a.m.
Kate Crawford's bucket list is filled with hopes and dreams, things she wants to accomplish in the time she has left with her family.
But her greatest dream is to find a cure for the cancer that has grown in her.
The Rostraver woman created her bucket list after being diagnosed last year with stage IV breast cancer.
“The bucket list is not necessarily for me,” Crawford said. “That's why I dubbed it the ‘Mommy Bucket List.'”
She and her husband, Stephen, have twin daughters, Grace and Lily, 6, and a son, Stephen, 4.
Last October, Crawford operated a lemonade stand at her home, raising $5,000 for the Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation and the UPMC CancerCenter.
“The little things most parents wouldn't think of are very important to me, like having a lemonade stand or seeing a child get an A on a test,” Crawford said.
“The things most people take for granted are my hopes and dreams.”
This year, her fundraising goal for the lemonade stand was $10,000.
The Kids II Foundation recently named Crawford a Pink Power Mom, one of eight women worldwide recognized for their efforts in breast cancer outreach and fundraising.
The award carries a $5,000 donation to the breast cancer association of Crawford's choice.
In February, Crawford will travel to Atlanta for the Kids II Foundation gala fundraiser.
“I'm looking forward to the gala and looking forward to being a mentor and growing with them,” Crawford said.
Crawford hosted two other fundraisers this month.
On Oct. 3, a Paint and Sip event at Off the Wall Arts in Charleroi generated more than $2,500.
Last weekend, she sponsored a kickball tournament that raised nearly $2,000.
Ten teams played in the double-elimination tournament at the John DiVirgilio Sports Complex in Rostraver.
Township officials donated use of the field, and the Belle Vernon Youth Soccer Association donated use of the concession stand, including food.
By month's end, her efforts will have generated $25,000.
Diagnosed in January 2013, Crawford learned the severity of her cancer the following month.
Statistically, the median survival rate for stage IV breast cancer is two to three years, Crawford said.
“There is no cure for breast cancer, so helping to aid those efforts literally means saving my own life,” Crawford said.
Crawford has persevered despite many obstacles. She underwent active chemotherapy last year, but the doctors gave her a break in that treatment after her condition stabilized.
She now receives targeted chemotherapy every three weeks.
“It just keeps my cancer at bay,” Crawford said.
As the cancer spread to her spine and pelvis, Crawford had problems walking. So she undewent daily radiation therapy for two weeks. Radiation helps alleviate some pain by shrinking tumors, especially in her pelvis.
“Now I go weekly for physical therapy,” Crawford said. “Since starting physical therapy, I've been feeling great.”
Hair loss is often a side effect of chemotherapy.
Her hair has grown back, but “I would rather be told I have no cancer,” Crawford said.
“My kids and my husband are the ones who keep me going,” Crawford said.
The bucket list provides incentives.
“Every month, we work toward checking it off,” Crawford said. “I'm looking forward to being a (Pink Power) Mom and doing what I have to do to find a cure.”
The award solidifies Crawford's role as an inspiration to others.
“It makes me blush,” Crawford said. “I want to inspire people with my story. I want them to know that no matter how hard things get it will be OK,” Crawford said.
In January, Crawford's son will undergo palate reconstruction involving the roof of his mouth. That will be followed by therapy to reteach him how to speak.
“No matter what happens, I know everything is going be OK,” Crawford said.
Some bucket list items were simple, others sentimental. She hoped to see her children attend a prom, which happened last year with the help of Belle Vernon Area School District officials. Some items are dreams, such as taking her family to New York for an extravagant vacation – or curing cancer.
“When I wrote up the bucket list, the whole Mommy Bucket List, I knew half of it was unattainable,” Crawford said. “They are dreams, but right now dreaming is pretty awesome to me.
“Even if I can't cure cancer in my lifetime, maybe my kids will look at that list and say, ‘This is something Mommy wanted' and complete them.”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642

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