No One Loves You Like Your Mom

First, an fyi continuation about Joe Raposo…  Beyond Bein’ Green, I had no idea he wrote all those Sesame Street songs.  Or the theme to Three’s Company.  Three’s Company!  I still want to name my band (not that I have a band, or can play an instrument) The Regal Beagle.  So yes, love Joe.

And now, until we count down the actual heroes in the book, here’s a recent hero sent to me by a fellow author, Mary Jane Hurley Brant.  A few weeks back, I posted on Twitter that we need to remember who gave us our breaks.  Caroline Brant wrote back to me and told me this story: nearly a decade ago, she was sitting next to my wife Cori on a train, and they randomly started talking about a charity called Katie’s Kids.  From there, Caroline wrote me:

Cori was a huge part of Katie’s Kids for the Cure’s success. Had I not met her on a train, I wouldn’t have moved forward!

That’s the day I quit my job and ran Katie’s Kids full-time! Raised $900K!

And so, here’s the story of the hero who inspired it all…

My daughter Katie by Mary Jane Hurley Brant

My daughter, Katie Brant, was my hero.  She was given an overwhelming challenge which she met valiantly, fearlessly and always with a greater good in mind.  I witnessed Katie’s bravery early on when she marched down the hallway of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia toward the gurney for her first brain surgery. She was only 18 years old.  As Katie waved goodbye she told us not to worry because “God wasn’t done with her yet.”  Katie was self-possessed, a character strength she consistently exhibited during the many years of daunting treatments, especially after she heard more bad news about her cancer. “We’ll manage it.”

Katie was very intelligent.  During the early days of her diagnosis and treatments, while an undergraduate at The University of Pennsylvania, she enrolled in a medical school class to research her own brain tumor.  In the bibliography of her text book she saw a doctor sited who specialized in her type of tumor: anaplastic astrocytoma.  Days later she boarded a train to New York to meet him.  Of course he became her oncologist because everybody always said yes to Katie; she was engaging, spirited, and charming.  She was also beautiful and light hearted especially when she kidded me about my “Deep Thoughts” then laughed hysterically when I gave her another one.

Katie faced Sisyphean challenges again and again after being diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a fist, a disease which turned chronic and required more and more treatments. Up she pushed the bolder then back down it rolled month after month, year after year. Sometimes her doctors reported wonderful news, “Good MRI, Katie, we think we got the tumor.”  Six months later the news turned bad, “Your last MRI shows the tumor is back, Katie; we recommend more surgery.” In all, Katie had five brain surgeries, two stem cell transplants, and a life-time’s dose of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and several experimental therapies. She agreed to undergo the experimental ones not because she believed they would help her but because she felt the data might help young children with brain tumors.

Katie’s attitude was so much about “the big picture.” During the ten years she battled her cancer she never questioned “why me?” often saying how little children and their families had it far worse.  Her optimism and confidence had no room for insecurity and nothing ever stopped her from consciously exploring what was really important to her life’s purpose.  Even during her treatments she always thought about how she could help others which led her to researching cause-related marketing (this links a charity to a corporate sponsor).  She was excited about this idea and pitched it at the new position she just landed with Time, Inc. Her passion and belief in putting the two ideas together soon earned Katie the title “Cause-Related Marketing Specialist.” Katie was a true pioneer in this endeavor and her promotion paved the way to land her dream job as National Director of Corporate Marketing for UNICEF.

But when Katie’s health deteriorated and she couldn’t manage by herself anymore, she returned home with her dad and me and established her own non-profit foundation, Katie’s Kids for the Cure.  Many days she worked long hours from her bed, too sick and exhausted to be walking around.  Few people even knew because Katie wasn’t given to having everyone else feel bad because of her plight.

Katie was the sweetest, most loving and confident woman I’ve ever known.  She helped anyone who needed her.  She was deeply loved by absolutely everyone who knew her, especially me.  Yes, my daughter Katie was my hero.  She lived the life of a modern day saint and I suspect that one day she will have that title and not just in her mother’s heart but in the world’s heart, too.

Mary Jane Hurley Brant, M.S., CGP

Please visit www.WhenEveryDayMatters.com to learn more about Katie and read an excerpt from the book of the same title.

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