Katie Renehan '05

"We found a tumor."  In December 2019, I was told those four words that would forever change my life. My daughter, Abby, was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer days after her fourth birthday. Our world was completely turned upside down as we began navigating hospital life and being away from home for extended periods of time. Abby underwent a craniotomy, six months of chemotherapy, three stem cell transfers, 28 days of proton radiation with anesthesia, and nine months of oral chemotherapy. To date, 8% of her tumor remains and is monitored often with scans and bloodwork. We had to rely on family, friends, community, and our faith to get us through the past few years.
While in the hospital, I noticed a need not only for transportation of a sick child, but also for the multiple items needed for long, inpatient visits. I spent many stays lugging in bags and making multiple trips with a sick child to and from the car. This prompted me to purchase a cheap wagon from Walmart, which changed everything and sparked an idea. 
In the spring of 2022 with Abby improving and excelling with her physical therapy, we decided to give back to help make a change for children in the hospital. Abby's Carts of Courage, through nonprofit Respite Retreats, delivers Radio Flyer wagons filled with comfort items to help children maneuver their cancer journey. This allows them to be refreshed and renewed to fight. Abby hand picks comfort items for each Carts of Courage Kid and delivers them in person. Since May of 2022, we have delivered 37 wagons to childhood cancer warriors nationwide.
As a Sailor of '05, I learned to give back and pay it forward through the Social Justice Committee and the Lives of the Saints elective class senior year. The Lives of the Saints class was truly my favorite and taught me to be there for others, especially those going through hard times. I still have my binder to this day, 18 years later, and can remember many of the saint quotes I learned in class. Mount de Sales helped shape me to be strong as my daughter went through the unimaginable, to lean on our faith, and to be there for others. I am truly grateful to be a Sailor and for the lifelong lessons I learned while attending Mount de Sales. For more information on Abby's Carts of Courage, please visit www.respiteretreats.org/acoc.

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