Blood drive this weekend will help teen with cancer

4:39 PM, Jun 20, 2012   |    comments
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This weekend you have a chance to help an East Tennessee teen who is fighting bone cancer.

Last year she was living the life of a 12 year old playing basketball and softball. Then doctors discovered a tumor in Katelyn Norman's right arm.

It was osteo-sarcoma bone cancer.

Now she's living the life of a cancer patient.

"I miss school. And I miss like during the summer you can just hang out with your friends and go to the pool. I can't go to a pool. Not allowed," Katelyn said.

Osteo-sarcoma is an aggressive cancer requiring regular chemotherapy treatments.

"Anything you do makes you sick. You might look at a TV and get sick. You can move and get sick, you can talk and get sick. Sometimes I would just sit there and rock in pain just hoping it would end," she said.

The 13 year old isn't letting her illness get her down.

Her attitude is 'bald is beautiful.'

In fact, she cut her hair short in anticipation of losing it.

"We were in the car. We had the windows rolled down. All my hair would float and fly in my mom's lap," she said laughing.

The Campbell County teen traveled to Vanderbilt for surgery to remove tumors on one side of her lungs. Her next surgery is for the other side and she anticipates still more chemo.

"Basically your daily routine is ruined. All you get to do is just sit around," she said.

Blood transfusions counter some of the fatigue of chemotherapy.

"You feel a whole lot better. You feel like you can walk around," she explained.

Leona Byrd is her cousin. She works at Medic Regional Blood Center and has been with Katelyn throughout her treatment.

"After chemo her blood levels bottom out," Leona Byrd said.

Transfusions are her life line.

"She has had 74 blood transfusions to date. And with another year of chemo, we're looking at a lot more transfusions because the longer she's on chemo the weaker her body becomes," Byrd said.

All that blood for Katelyn came from donors. The family hopes donors will turn out Saturday for a blood drive at Campbell County High School.

"We're doing a replacement blood drive there where we're asking the community to come in and donate in Katelyn's name to pay for her transfusions," Byrd explained.

Every unit donated at the replacement blood drive is a unit credited to Katelyn no matter what the blood type.

"No matter what she's going through she always has a smile. She inspires us to be stronger people," Byrd said.

Katelyn said, "You've just got to think positive. Don't really think about it too much."

Katelyn Norman has another year of treatment so she is half way through.

"I know I have a future. Something to look forward to," she said.

You can donate blood at any time at Medic just tell them it's for Katelyn.

The replacement blood drive this Saturday, June 23, is at Campbell County High School from 10:00 to 6:00.

Motorcyclists with 'Bikers from Christ' plan to donate blood for her.

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