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Cate’s Story – Fighting with a Smile

Cathryn Jean Karjalainen (Cate) was recently diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer most commonly found in infants. Close to 50 percent of neuroblastoma cases occur in children younger than two years old, Cate was diagnosed at the age of 8 months. Together with her mother Jolene, father Kurt, big sister Claire, and twin brother Cain she has begun her fight.

In September of 2010, baby Cate woke up with swollen eyes. It was during a diaper change that Jolene noticed a lump at the base of Cate’s neck. The lump prompted a visit to their pediatrician where they suggested it may be cervical adenitis, an infection of the lymph nodes. Weeks later, the lump was unresponsive to antibiotic treatment and no other symptoms had presented themselves. During all of this Cate kept her daily routine of playing with Claire and helping Mom and Dad calm her brother, affectionately known as “Hurri-Cain”. While Cate’s spirits and vibrant smile remained, so did the lump.

Their doctor in Kearney referred them to Children’s Hospital, located in Omaha, a three-hour drive from home. While praying that it was only an infection, biopsies and numerous tests soon proved otherwise. Kurt and Jolene were forced to face a reality that no parent would ever want to face as extensive testing revealed a cancer that had already spread to many parts of Cate’s body. The second week of October, this lively little girl with beautiful blue eyes and a magnificent smile had begun her first round of chemotherapy. Undeterred, her mother Jolene simply stated, “Watch out cancer, here we come!”

Cate’s fight has begun and she has continued “fighting with a smile.” With the help of family and friends across the United States, Team Cate – Fighting with a Smile has been established. It is our mission to raise funds and provide assistance to the Karjalainen family while they battle this cancer. Please join Team Cate and donate today and help us continue to “fight with a smile.”