Catlin is easy-going, an all-around sports fan and always ready to make a joke. He’s also a police officer, serving the area of West Linn. His job requires him to face intense situations and he often sees people during their lowest moments. Despite so much experience, nothing prepared Catlin for both the joys and sorrows of being a Chemo Pal Mentor.
September 2017, Catlin got the call from CCA, the Chemo Pal Specialists had found him a match and his name is Jack. Catlin was both excited and nervous to meet him. It was to become a friendship formed at just the right time. This is his story.
“About 8 months ago I was matched in the Chemo Pal program with my man Jack. Jack had just been diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in his shoulder and on his hip.
I remember being really nervous heading up to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital to meet Jack and his mom Tammi for the first time. I didn’t know if we would get along or if Jack would think I was funny (which trust me I am, but you never know he could have had a bad sense of humor). I got up to the hospital dressed in my purple Chemo Pal shirt. I walked into the room, and the first thing Jack did was make fun of me for wearing a purple shirt. Right then and there, I knew we were going to get along.
Jack had his original surgery. Surgery was successful: tumor removed, clear margins, and no evidence of cancer. He still had 20 weeks of chemo and a lot of rehab ahead of him, but he was ready to take that challenge head on. This kid had more courage than I could ever imagine having.”
“For the next few months I went up to the hospital as much as I could while Jack was in town for his chemo. We had some epic Uno card battles, the smack talk was nonstop, and cards were thrown across the room in anger after a loss (not going to say which one of us threw the cards). There were times Jack was asleep when I got there and I sat and talked with Tammi. Slowly they became family to me.
A few months ago, I received a text from Jack and a phone call from Tammi. Jack’s new scans showed the cancer had spread and new tumors had appeared, one right near his spine, making surgery no longer an option. The plan had changed, no more chemo, and radiation was going to be done for pain management only.”
A Year to Live
“The next time I talked to Jack he told me he had maybe a year to live. I was at a loss for words. What is there to say that can make him feel better? So, I just told him all I could think of, that I am there for him no matter what, anything he needs.
This is news in life that to some people can make them adopt a woe is me attitude. I didn’t know how he would act the next time I saw him. Yet the way Jack responded showed me this is no woe is me kid. The next time I saw him was at a baseball game at Linfield where he threw out the first pitch. I brought my girlfriend at the time to the game. Not only did he throw a perfect strike, but he came off the field, grabbed my phone, found my girlfriend’s number, added her has a contact, and told me he was going to take my girlfriend on a date. Then proceeded to refer to himself as “Mr. Steal Yo Girl” for the next week or so. This kid had no quit in him.”
A Changed Life
“Life can change in the blink of an eye. Jack has taught me it’s how you handle yourself that’s most important. Of course, he has had his freak out moments, who wouldn’t? He is a 14-year-old kid who has to deal with something unfathomable. However, he is handling it like a champion. Not many people come into your life and change it. Jack has been one of those people for me, he has made me more appreciative, made me laugh, made me realize what is important, and overall made me a better man for knowing him. However much time he has left, he will continue to make people better for getting the chance to meet him. He is an inspiration.
Lastly, I want to give a big time shout out to Jack’s mom, Tammi. She was dealt the worst thing a parent can possibly be dealt. Tammi has handled it with class, dignity, and been there for anything that Jack needs. Making sure his medical care is top notch every step of the way. Tammi has been doing this while raising Jack and his two siblings all on her own. This woman deserves an award.”
Make the Most of Every Minute
“Life isn’t always fair, but the important thing is that you make the most out of every minute of it. It can get complicated but tell the people you love that you love them every single day.
The Chemo Pal Mentor Program gave me an opportunity to meet this amazing kid and his family. Any money donated goes towards future matches and the ability to run the program. Please help any way you can fund this program that gives people the opportunity to form bonds that will last forever.”