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Monday, December 18, 2000 at 01:11 PM (CST)

Dear friends and family,

Seven months ago we lost Catie. Her presence lives on in us, but it is so hard to be without her. Little by little we are accepting that we won't see her for a long time. But there are times when the grief hits really hard.

I am not sending Christmas cards out this year. I'm trying to take it easy and simplify - although I miss writing our holiday letter. Thank you to all of you who are sending cards. We love getting them.

The boys are doing quite well. They have a lot of support and although they miss Catie they feel free to talk about her.

My parents have decided to come up for Christmas. We have been together every Christmas since we had kids and it means so much to me, Larry and the boys. It will be tough, but Catie's presence shines through.

Larry went to mass yesterday and the priest (not our pastor) was talking about finding joy in simple things. He said that while he was saying the homily the day before, he looked down and there was a ladybug crawling on his vestment and he felt such a feeling of joy. He doesn't know about Catie and ladybugs, but Larry felt like he was talking to him.

Please know that we wish all of you a wonderful holiday. We are thankful that we have you and your support.

Love, Gina


Monday, November 27, 2000 at 02:05 PM (CST)

Hi everyone,

We made it through the six month anniversary. It is very hard not having Catie around. With the holidays around the corner, we are trying to keep things "normal" but make new traditions.

My friend Lynne and her family came over for Thanksgiving - which made the day very pleasant. We weren't sure how it was going to be, but having the kids running around and doing crafts (while Lynne and I drank mimosas) was very nice.

Thank you for all of your continued support. We need it. Sometimes it seems unreal that we are living our lives without her.

We have sent money to the social worker at Sloan-Kettering to help the families there and that makes us feel good. We know how happy that would have made Catie.

I'm having pins made for the Foundation - hearts with footprints and they should be here soon. Don't forget to check out the Foundation web site - we are trying to help families during the holiday season while they are at the Ronald McDonald House.

Thanks again.

Love, Gina


Tuesday, November 07, 2000 at 02:53 PM (CST)

We are getting close to the six month mark and it just doesn't seem possible. Halloween was much harder than I thought it was going to be. Robby dressed in the same outfit that Catie did last year and every time I looked at him, it took my breath away. I was able to go into school for both kids' parties. They had so much fun. (I ended up with a headache!)

We continue to take it day by day and I am trying to cut back on how busy I am. However, I am going to NY on Thursday to meet with Catie's doctors and the social worker. We have already sent $10,000 to be distributed to the families and it looks like we might purchase a piece of equipment for Dr. Cheung's lab. Continuing to help makes us feel good.

There is going to be a holiday tree in Washington, DC for childhood cancer. Please look at the times union web site to get more information. It should be beautiful and GE is donating the lights to LIGHT UP THE HOLIDAYS WITH HOPE!

Thanks for continuing to write in the guestbook. It really lifts our spirits.

Love, Gina


Monday, November 06, 2000 at 06:28 PM (CST)

Another week has passed and we are getting closer to the six month mark. How can that be? Halloween was very hard. I spent the day at school in Robby's and Johnny's classroom. Robby wore the same thing that Catie wore last year - so every time I looked at him it took my breath away.

I have been overbooking my schedule and have had to slow down. I now am trying to take things a little easier. That said, I am going to NY on Thursday to meet with Dr. Cheung and Dr. Kramer and to talk to Diane the social worker. We have already sent $10,000 to Diane to distribute to the families. Now we are going to purchase a piece of equipment for Dr. Cheung's lab.

Johnny and Robby continue to do well. They are very sweet when it comes to Catie. Last Monday I picked Robby up from religion and he asked if we could go see Catie. Normally he doesn't do that. So we went to the cemetery (even though I hate going there when it is dark). Johnny will just talk about her. She is a very real presence in their lives.

As for me and Larry, she is always in our thoughts. At times it seems incomprehensible that we have to live the rest of our lives without her. But I remember her telling me not to cry to much and it makes me think she knows something that I don't. So I try to follow her advice.

Thank you for continuing to write in our guestbook. It really gives me a lift to know that people are thinking of Catie and thinking of us.



Friday, October 27, 2000 at 06:14 AM (CDT)

Ladybugs are everywhere. Everyone I talk to has a ladybug story and I love hearing them. One mom from my internet support group had taken her son to her local clinic for treatment. As soon as they got there they noticed a ladybug on the window. That ladybug didn't fly away until that family was ready to leave.

When I go visit Catie's grave and I see a beautiful pumpkin arrangement, or a pumpkin painted like a ladybug it makes me smile. Larry and I wonder who has been visiting our beautiful Catie and we are glad that people come.

The Catiebug 5k was a huge success. The day was beautiful and we raised over $25,000. Some of that money is on its way to families of kids with neuroblastoma being treated at MSKCC.

Please continue to write notes in the guestbook. It feels good to hear from all of you. Thank you for all that you do.

Love, Gina

 


Thursday, October 05, 2000 at 03:42 PM (CDT)

Twenty weeks ago we lost our beautiful Catie. It doesn't seem possible. We miss her all the time, yet we know that she would want us to go on, and to enjoy life - like she did.

Before she died, she told me she didn't want me to cry a lot. I think about that often - that she was trying to set the tone for when she was gone. She was and is such a tremendous presence in all of our lives.

The other day, my friend Lynn (Kevin's mom) called to tell me that when she and Kevin went back to the Ronald McDonald House for the next round of treatment, there was a glittery ladybug sticker right in front of their door. She thought someone might have left it there for them purposely, but then realized that she didn't know anyone who was staying at the house. A few days later, Larry and I took the boys bowling. While we were sitting around, Robby looked down, and right at his feet was another glittery ladybug sticker. I think it was a sign!

The boys are doing well. Robby loves second grade and Johnny really loves kindergarten. Larry and I just ride the waves. Some days are good and others not so good. But the bottom line is that we know our lives are better for having had Catie in them.

Thank you all for your continued support. Please pray for good weather on Saturday - our first annual Catiebug 5k.

Love, Gina


Wednesday, September 20, 2000 at 04:25 PM (CDT)

It has been over four months since we lost our beautiful Catie. Some days are harder than others.

Washington, DC was amazing. I was able to spend a lot of time with Congresswoman Deborah Pryce from Ohio who lost her daughter Caroline to neuroblastoma. We got to know each other at Sloan Kettering. I spoke at a rally in front of the Capitol. It was quite a moving experience. My friend Fran came with me to offer unconditional support and lots of tissues. So many of us testified in front of the House Cancer Awareness Working Caucus. It was amazing!

Now we are working hard on the Catiebug race. Check out the Times Union link below for more information.

Don't forget about CharityMall. You can do all your online shopping and the merchants will donate to the Catie Hoch Foundation. Go to the link below or check out charitymall.com/catiehoch

Thank you for your continued support.


Friday, September 08, 2000 at 05:49 AM (CDT)

More time has passed and some days are harder than others. We are trying to honor Catie's memory. The Catiebug 5k is coming along. Community support has been tremendous.

Also, I will be speaking on the steps of the Capitol and at a briefing in Washington. I'm thrilled to be able to do this.

For anyone interested in the Foundation, go to the Times Union web site listed below. If you join as a member I can send you e-mail updates.

We have set up a new fund-raising tool. If you shop alot on-line at places like Amazon.com and LLBean, please check out Charity Mall. You place your orders through this company, and there are many, many merchants, and designate the Catie Hoch Foundation, and then the companies donate a percentage to the Foundation. Just go to www.charitymall.com/catiehoch

Thank you all for your love and support.

Gina


Monday, August 21, 2000 at 07:56 PM (CDT)

I apologize for not updating sooner, but I managed to delete all of my program files and I just got my computer back.

It has been over three months since we lost Catie. Sometimes it seems like yesterday, sometimes forever. We saw her headstone for the first time on August 16th, the three year anniversary of her diagnosis. It is very beautiful, but the day was very hard.

We are trying very hard to honor Catie's memory by enjoying life and making the most of every moment. She is always in my heart and I miss her so much. But when I go to the cemetery and see those ladybug and angel pinwheels spinning, I feel like she is sending me a message.

We are planning the first annual Catiebug 5k and the support from the community has been tremendous. I am also planning to go to Washington in September where I will be speaking in front of members of Congress about pediatric cancer.

We started a new web site at the Albany Times Union (the link is below) where we can keep people updated on Foundation activities.

Thank you all for your kindness and support. It keeps us going.

Love, Gina


Thu Jul 13 12:59:36 CST 2000

Eight weeks ago today we lost our beautiful Catie. We miss her so much, but the thought of her smile and her strength keeps us going.

Since Catie's death, we know of seven more children who have died of neuroblastoma. It is heartbreaking and it shouldn't be happening.

There is a congressional briefing in September in Washington and I plan to attend. If anyone wants to support this, write to your congressperson and ask him/her to support Concurrent House Resolution 115, the Childhood Cancer Awareness Resolution, along with any appropriations bills to fund pediatric cancer research. If you need more information, check out www.nccf.org and then look under advocacy.

I want to remember Catie in a positive way and we all want to make a difference. Your help will help us.

Love, Gina


Thu Jul 6 12:18:15 CST 2000

It has been seven long weeks since Catie died and we still see her smiling face. We received a card from our neighbor's cousin yesterday and this poem was on the back. It seems as if Catie was talking to us.

WHEN I MUST LEAVE YOU

When I must leave you for a little while
Please do not grieve and shed wild tears
And hug your sorrow to you through the years.

But start out bravely with a gallant smile,
And for my sake and in my name
Live on and do all things the same,
Feed not your loneliness on empty days,
But fill each waking hour in useful ways,
Reach out your hand in comfort and in cheer
And I in turn will comfort you and hold you near,
And never, never be afraid to die,
For I am waiting for you in the sky!

Love, Gina


Thursday, June 29, 2000 at 06:22 PM (CDT)

It has been six weeks since Catie passed away and it seems like forever. When I look at pictures of her and see her smiling face, I can't believe that she is gone.

As a family we continue to keep busy. Anyone who knows Robby and Johnny knows what that means. They have been having a good summer - swimming, playing and getting dirty. We visit Catie's grave almost daily and it does give us a sense of peace. We just miss her so much.

Thank you again to all of you for your kindness, generosity, and thoughtfulness. It is because of our friends and family that we are able to keep on going.

Love, Gina


Friday, June 23, 2000 at 07:05 AM (CDT)

Yesterday marked five weeks since we lost Catie. At times it doesn't seem real, and other times it is all too real. I went to school to bring Potter to Robby's class and then ran down to Catie's class. When I got all of her papers I just cried. She should have been there enjoying the last days of school.

And then there is this wonderful community in which we live. Parents at the school planted a garden in Catie's memory. There were all these people in the pouring rain, doing a beautiful job of remembering Catie. It was so touching.

A parent of a child in Catie's class ran a golf outing and she raised over $600 for Catie's Foundation on one hole. We were thrilled.

We take it day by day, and try to balance our wonderful memories of her, with the daily activites of two rambunctious boys.

Thank you all for your continued support.

Love,
Gina


Thursday, June 22, 2000 at 06:31 PM (CDT)

It has been five long weeks since Catie left us. Sometimes it still doesn't seem real.

Today was the last day of school and it was a very bittersweet time. Getting Catie's papers was very hard - it made everything seem so much more real. And then, last night several parents from the school planted a garden in Catie's memory. It was pouring out and all these people were there in the rain and mud, planting flowers. We were so touched.

Thank you again for all of your love and support. We really appreciate it.

Gina and Larry


Thursday, June 15, 2000 at 07:21 AM (CDT)

Four weeks ago today, Catie left us and our lives will never be the same. We miss her so much, and yet there is a part of us that is expecting her to come in the door.

Visiting her grave is comforting most of the time. Especially when her pinwheel starts spinning when the car drives. Sometimes, it just gives us a good cry.

The boys are doing well. They talk about Catie and miss her. But I am so glad that they got to say good-bye to her, and tell her they love her. When they visit the grave, the atmosphere is a little different, as they usually are kicking a soccer ball around or hurtling grave stones.

Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, masses, flowers and generous contributions to the Catie Hoch Foundation.

Love, Gina


Monday, June 05, 2000 at 10:28 AM (CDT)

Hello everyone,

We are starting to cope with the loss of Catie and it is very difficult. I wanted to share with you what my sister Anne Marie wrote and read at Catie's funeral.

CATIE

Today we celebrate the life of our Catie. She has touched everyone who has ever had the honor of meeting her. When we think of Caie we will remember her special names such as Sunshine, Deedlit, DeDeDog, Honey Bunny, Princess, Catie Baby, Special and above all Incredible. I would always tease Catie and ask her what she wanted for her birthday and it never mattered to her because she could always find something wonderful about anything. One year I told her all I could afford was to give her some rocks, and she said that was a great gift because she could paint them and give them names.

Everyday was special to Catie and she would always find something good about it. How she loved school. She told me her class took a trip to India. It was so much fun Aunt Re. We put our chairs in the hall and we flew to India. Catie truly loved everything and everyone. When she was little she loved Barney, then Tweety, American Girls, Bitty Baby, Star Wars and the precious times when Mommy would read her Little Women and Harry Potter. She loved to swim and dance to the music of the Backstreet Boys. She could tell you all the stats for the Yankees and tell you why she didn't like the Mets. She had many good times with her girlfriends Ashley and Jeannette. We have so many beautiful pictures of Catie and her cousin Tess. It was always Catie and Tess and Tess and Catie.

Catie's soulmate was Kevin. There was an instant connection between these two marvelous children. They talked in a language only they understood. There will always be that picture in my mind of Catie and Kevin in their prom attire. Kevin in his tuxedo and Catie in her blue gown standing against the sunlight, patiently waiting for all of us to stop taking pictures.

We watched her eyes light up when she received a long distance call from J.K. Rowling, or as Catie called her, Jo. When ever we see a ladybug fly by or perched on a window sill or a branch you will be reminded of all the treasured images we have in our minds of our Catie.

I know I can speak for everyone here today that Catie was incredible and we have treasured memories of her from her doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers, babysitters, neighbors, friends, godparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, Dommie, Papa, Robby, Johnny and most of all her parents, Gina and Larry. What can I say about Gina and Larry other than we all love you so much and we try to imagine what you are feeling but we know we can't. You never imposed your fears on us and least of all on Catie. She only saw the strength and love to two of the most loving, courageous parents we have ever met. Our hearts go out to you and Robby and Johnny.

Take a moment and think about that certain something Catie said or did that made you smile and tuck that memory in your hearts and know that beautiful smiling face is saying thank you for celebrating my life today and I love you!

by Aunt Re


Tuesday, May 23, 2000 at 07:27 PM (CDT)

Catie's wake was on Sunday and so many people got to say good-bye to her. The funeral was yesterday and it was so beautiful. Our families and friends contributed so much by doing the readings, bringing up the gifts, and planning the luncheon afterward. I felt comforted, when all I thought I would feel was despair.

I want to share with you the homily by Father Pratt:

As I begin today, on behalf of the Corpus Christi community I extent to the Hoch family our deepest sympathies on the occasion of Catie's passing. While our faith assures us that Catie is at rest now, yet the sense of loss, the void, the separation that is felt by her family and those who knew and loved her is dep and real. We must acknowledge that loss and continue to ofer our prayer and support to one another.

At a time such as this, there is no doubt that we are confronted by the reality of mystery. The mystery of life; the mystery of death. Catie's death raises many questions, and there seems to be few adequate answers to the questions that challenge us today. Last Thursday evening, I met with several of Catie's classmates and friends and invited them to ask what questions they had. Theirs are ours, I am sure. "Why did God take her from us," one asked. Another: "She was so young and suffered so much. Why?"

When faced with such questions, I feel one needs to consider their understanding of God. Who God is for you makes all the difference at a time like this. Many view God as impersonal, aloof, removed, even vindictive. Often our words of condolence while meant to be offered in good faith, are grounded more times than not with an understanding of a God who at best, is indifferent to our feelins and our challenges. To say Catie's death was "God's will" is such a response. One has every right to be upset with such a concept of God.

I have come to understand God's design as revealed by Jesus. After all, Jesus is the living presence of God among us. He does not represent an impersoanl or worse, vindictive God. No, rather, Jesus spoke of God's care, comfort and compassion for us. Jesus' ministry was one of healing and forgiveness; he spoke constantly and consistently of life and love, of justice and peace. So while Catie's death is hard to understand, we have an assurance that it was not motivated by an impersonal, vindictive God. On the contrary: God is most aware of our challenges, our pains and hurts for in the person of Jesus he walks with us. I cannot help but believe that the Lord who himself suffered in this life, was at Catie's side throughout her suffereng. And is not Mary, Jesus' mother, at the side of Gina and Larry even now, as they lay their child to rest? She who was handed her Son as he was taken down from the cross sure walks with Catie's parents today.

I believe today as well that our understanding of God must also recognize the beauty of God's creative hand. Is not God the life-source of all that breathes and shares in the gift we call life? Catie had a true love for live and a keen sense of her place in God's created order. She truly was gifted - indeed she was a gift to us. The very breath and spirit of God moved through her and touched countless lives. By the example set by her parents, Larry and Gina, Catie was a selfless and a most caring young lady. How many stories have been shared these past few days which spoke of her selflessness, her smile and her charm. Even in her most painful moments, she never ceased to think of others. I was told that just a week or so before she died, she invited her friends to her home so that she could give away her favorite things.

She was one who understood the wonders and awesome creation of God and that life was to be lifed to the full. Even in her illness, she would love to play and enjoy life. Whether it was roller blading or riding in a wagon pulled by her husky - the Southwood Drive Iditerod - as it has come to be known, there was a sense of happiness and joy that Catie never missed nor let her sickness deny her of.

Catie never God was unfair to her. As a matter of fact, in the beautiful relfection that Gina offers us in our worship aid today, she quotes Catie's words: "I really like my life. I wouldn't change a thing". Yet we find ourselves amidst a world that is sitll incomplete; it is still not perfect. There continues to be hurt and pain and sickness. We must understand that with the talents and creativity God has gifted us with we can put our resources at the service of good and bring about a more just, peace-filled world, a world that knows less pain and suffering. We only need to look to the doctors and nurses and care-givers who attended to Catie to find examples of such selflessness.

Yes, Catie's life was short by some standards; in years under 10. Yet it is important to remember that the measure of fullness is not how long one may have lived, but what one has done in the time one is given. And in that sense Catie lived a full life.

She was a child, yes, but at the same time, a teacher, a poet and artist, a selfless and sensitive liver of life. and we are all the better for having known her. And let there be no doubt Catie's faith in God stands as a witness for all.

Last October Father Berberian gave Catie her First Communion. That day and all the Sunday's that Catie wwas able to come to mass, I could not help but notice the smile and the glow on her face as she dame forward to receive the Lord Jesus in Eucharist. What a lesson in faith and love there is her for all of us adult and child alike. Would that our reception of Communion be one filled with the spirit of joy by which Catie received the Lord!

Our Scriptures today which have been chosen by Gina and Larry, speak of "a time to be born, a time to die". They speak of love's patience and how God has revealed the wisdom of the ages to the childlike. Above all they speak of trust in the Lord:"Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest."

It is with that sense of trust, of love, of wisdom, of faith that allows us to hand over Catie today.

Our Commendation Prayers of today's liturgy remind us that "one day we shall see Catie again and enjoy her friendship" Until we meet once again in the Lord, may we live what her precious life has taught us: a sense of celebration for life despite its adversities; an appreciation for the beauty of God's creation even as found in little lady bugs, and an awesome belief that we are truly a gift to one another.

Larry and Gina specifically requested that Psalm 100 be recited today; I cold not end with a getter acclamation: "Give thanks to God, bless his name, for her is good. His kindness endures forever"
May 22, 2000


Thank you for being a part of Catie's life.

Love, Gina and Larry


Thursday, May 18, 2000 at 03:54 PM (CDT)

Catie passed away today at 12:30 p.m. She is finally at peace after three long weeks. Her shining presence will live in our hearts forever.

The wake will be held on Sunday, May 21st from 3 -6 p.m. at Emerick's Funeral Home, 1550 Rt. 9, Clifton Park.

The funeral will be held at Corpus Christi Church on Monday, May 22nd at 11:00 a.m. with a luncheon to follow.

To get to the funeral home, take the thruway or 90 to Albany where it intersects with the Northway, 87 North. Go to exit 8A and take a right. Stay on this to Rt. 9 and take a left. Go 1 and 1/2 miles and it is on the left.

To get to the church, take the northway to Exit 10. Go right on Ushers Rd. and go through the light at Rt. 9. The church is on the corner of Rt.9 and Ushers Road.

Donations may be made to the Catie Hoch Foundation, 27 Southwood Drive, Ballston Lake, NY 12019.

Thank you all for your prayers. Catie was a true blessing to all of us.

Love, Gina and Larry


Thursday, May 18, 2000 at 09:24 AM (CDT)

Catie's breathing has gotten more labored. It now sounds as if she is filling with fluid. She did a lot of moaning and crying out last night, and Larry and I had to keep raising her up when she began to cough. We upped her Fentanyl level and are keeping her on Ativan. She did wake up enough to murmur during the night "I love you".

She is too precious and this is getting almost unbearable. Please continue to pray for an easy journey to heaven.

Love, Gina and Larry


Tuesday, May 16, 2000 at 08:18 AM (CDT)

Catie is still hanging in, but just barely. We lay there and watch her breathe. Her breathing is shallow and labored but she does wake up at times for a minute or two.

Last night in the middle of the night she started moaning and I thought that my heart was breaking little bit more. I don't know how much more she can take.

Please continue to pray for her. I know when she gets to heaven she will be watching over all of us.

The other day when I asked her if Mary and Jesus were going to take her to heaven, she said that she needed an escalator. On Saturday, she called her best friends and cousin over, and gave away her American Girl dolls.

She has brought so much joy to us. I can't believe we are losing her.

Love, Gina


Friday, May 12, 2000 at 05:34 PM (CDT)

Catie is still hanging on. The pain is increasing and we are doing our best to stay on top of it. She is getting very confused and forgetful, and to top it off, she is losing her hair from the radiation. Please pray that this is over with soon.

The following is one of my favorite sayings and I think it applies to Catie:

Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.

Love, Gina


Tuesday, May 09, 2000 at 11:23 AM (CDT)

Things seem to be getting progressively worse. The pain and other meds are not giving her much relief (mostly she is agitated) and this morning she fell trying to go to the bathroom and chipped her two front teeth. It is like watching your child disappear from your eyes little by little.

Please pray that this is over with soon. She needs Mary to come down and bring her to heaven (and to those of you who know her) she wants her buppy (blanket) to go with her.

Love, Gina


Monday, May 08, 2000 at 07:16 AM (CDT)

Hello everyone,

Things have gotten progressively worse. Catie spent 3 days completely agitated, afraid of dying, afraid of falling asleep. We have tried to keep her calm, but it has been difficult. It breaks our hearts to have to try to lead her to heaven.

Last night she finally slept. She started to get delusional in the middle of the day, but then actually slept through the night, which she hasn't done in days.

Please pray to Mary to come and take our beautiful child to heaven. Catie is afraid that she is losing her mind, because she can't remember things. Hopefully this agitation has passed and she will allow things to happen.


Thursday, May 04, 2000 at 07:27 AM (CDT)

Hi everyone,

We are hanging in here. Catie has had some good moments. Yesterday she wanted pizza, chicken wings and ice cream - and she got them. Then last night Potter pulled her in the go-kart.

She is having frequent headaches, but we are able to manage the pain. We just want to keep her comfortable.

Thank you all for the love, support and prayers you are sending. They mean a lot to us.

Love, Gina and Larry


Sunday, April 30, 2000 at 07:51 PM (CDT)

As many of you now know, Catie's disease has spread to her brain. We are home enjoying every moment that we have left with her.

She continues to amaze us. As you will see in the pictures, she had quite a day today. He buddy Kevin came and visited her and they wore their prom clothes. And J.K. Rowling called from Scotland and read Catie Chapter 4 of her new book. Then we went to Kobe's japanese steak house where the chef is in love with her. She said it was the best day of her life.

Where did we get her?

Love, Gina and Larry


Sunday, April 30, 2000 at 06:29 AM (CDT)

We received devastating news on Thursday. Catie's disease has spread to her brain. We are all home now, making the most of each day. We can't believe this is happening. Please pray for a speedy and painless journey for Catie. She probably won't be with us much longer. And pray that Larry and I have the strength to give her up. We are heartbroken.

Love, Gina


Sunday, April 30, 2000 at 01:51 AM (CDT)

On Thursday we received devastating news. Catie's disease has spread to her brain. We are home now, making her comfortable and making the most of each minute we have with her. It probably won't be long. Please pray for a speedy and painless journey for our beautiful Catie and pray that Larry and I have the strength to give her up. Pray for Robby and Johnny, my parents and our families.

Love, Gina


Saturday, April 29, 2000 at 01:24 PM (CDT)

Hello everyone - We received some devastating news on Thursday. Catie's disease has metastasized to her brain. We are no longer going to Duke. We are staying home and trying to make her comfortable. It probably won't be long now. Please pray for a speedy and painless journey. Our hearts are breaking. Pray that we have the strength to deal with this.

Love,
Gina and Larry


Monday, April 24, 2000 at 05:28 AM (CDT)

A belated Happy Easter and Happy Passover to everyone. After our days at the ranch, we relaxed at home, colored eggs, went shopping, baked and just had fun. Easter was wonderful. Catie woke up not feeling well, but I took the boys to church. How thankful Larry and I are that we were able to celebrate this holiday ALL together.

We are waiting to hear from Duke to see if they are going to accept us and if they can give us a date. Catie is excited about going (where did we get this kid!). We are stockpiling books to bring. Because she will be in isolation in a lead room, she can have visitors for only a few minutes at a time.

We are so thankful for every day that we have with her. We just hope to have many, many more.

Love, Gina


Wednesday, April 19, 2000 at 06:17 AM (CDT)

We got home yesterday after a three day vacation at the Rocking Horse Ranch. The kids had a great time - swimming, horseback riding, archery, mini golf, paddle boating, etc. The weather wasn't great, but we had a great time.

We are waiting to hear from Duke University Hospital in NC to see if and when we can start MIBG therapy. Catie continues to feel good and she is enjoying herself. She had her friend sleep over last night.

Sometimes we can actually feel like a normal family. Let's hope we can get things at Duke moving quickly.

Love, Gina and Larry


Thursday, April 13, 2000 at 01:42 PM (CDT)

Hi everyone - Well we are back from NY and we got the results from Catie's scans. They were not what we had hoped for. The tumors are continuing to grow. We discussed options with Dr. Cheung and we think we are going to go with MIBG therapy. It is a radiation based therapy available in only a few hospitals throughout the country. We thought we would be able to do it at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, but we can't. I posted questions on the neuroblastoma support network and someone mentioned Duke University in North Carolina. So we got on the phone this morning and Larry has already spoken with the doctor there. We would need to get a compassionate use waiver from the FDA, which may take a month, but we are hopeful that we can do it.

Catie continues to amaze the doctors in NY. They look at her and it just doesn't make sense that she has so much cancer in her. Our favorite surgeon was reviewing her scans and she told him he was looking at it the wrong way. He was. And we all laughed! He said "I can just see her in 20 years, running the place"! And I said that nothing would make me happier than to pay for medical school for her.

I guess we just have to keep on plugging away. She is our little miracle and every day is precious.

Love, Gina


Thursday, April 06, 2000 at 12:40 PM (CDT)

We went to Albany Med today for counts and they were fine. Catie and I met Larry at a Japanese Steak. I was able to upload the photo of Catie in her prom dress. Check it out. We head to NY on Monday. Tuesday is the CT, so please say an extra prayer for her.

Thanks.

Gina


Tuesday, April 04, 2000 at 05:05 PM (CDT)

Happy Tuesday. Yesterday Catie and I, along with her buddy Kevin, went to NY. She had her blood drawn and was examined by Dr. Kushner. He said if you didn't know what she had inside of her, you would never know she was sick. Her lungs were clear and she looks great.

Today she went to school in the afternoon for Kenya day. Her wonderful teacher Mrs. Flanagan planned a great afternoon. The kids made necklaces, danced, cooked an African dessert, did tie dye and made a great mural. Catie loved it.

Next week we go back to NY for scans. Her CT is on Tuesday, so please say an extra prayer for her. If she is stable or responding to the Rebeccamycin, we will stay on it. If the disease is progressing, then we are off to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. I am trying to keep my anxiety level down to a low panic about the scans. I'm getting pretty good at reading a CT scan over the shoulder of the technician and from across the room!

Love, Gina


Wednesday, March 29, 2000 at 02:45 PM (CST)

Hi everyone - Well Catie and I went to NY on Monday for round 2 of the Rebeccamycin. When the doctors listened to her (clear) lungs, they said to keep on doing whatever we have been doing (which is mostly having fun!).

The train ride home was little rough. Catie slept through most of it and the vomitted about 30 minutes outside of Albany. As luck would have, the women across the aisle was a Make-a-Wish volunteer and she helped with cleanup. She also waited with Catie in the train station while I brought the van around. The kindness of strangers continue to amaze me.

Catie got fitted for new ear molds today for her hearing aids. She opted for multi-colored glitter this time! We go back to NY tomorrow for another blood draw, but we will be home tomorrow night.

We have planned a mini-vacation at a dude ranch for the week before Easter and we are just enjoying every minute. We made cookies today and Potter continues to amuse us.

Thanks for all the prayers and positive thoughts.

Love, Gina


Sunday, March 26, 2000 at 06:48 AM (CST)

It has been a wonderful weekend so far. Friday was a day off for the kids so I took Catie and her friends swimming at the Y. She wore her new Speedo and I almost cried when I saw her playing in the water and diving off the side. Then it was off to the playground - the weather was gorgeous and everyone had a great time. The boys were looking for fossils (and got very dirty - as they are suppposed to).

Yesterday was a skating birthday party for our dear friend, Jake Godgart. Catie and Robby skated for three hours and showed no signs of stopping. I took a few turns around the rink and even Johnny skated. We had a blast.

Today, Catie's tutor Suzanne is coming by. I think it is multiplication time! And tomorrow we are off to NY for more Rebeccamycin.

We are thankful every day that Catie feels good and is enjoying herself. Thank you for all of your prayers and good thoughts.

Love, Gina


Thursday, March 23, 2000 at 08:09 AM (CST)

Happy Thursday. Catie is continuing to do well. She has a cold, but other than that, she's fine. She's been tromping down in the ravine with Potter and playing with her Bitty Baby. She and her friend Ashley have been having a great time. Catie and I go to NY on Monday for her next infusion of Rebeccamycin. Keep your fingers crossed.

Love, Gina


Monday, March 20, 2000 at 03:46 PM (CST)

Catie and I went to Albany Medical Center today to get her counts checked. We assumed that she would need platelets, but her counts were great - so we went shopping!

Catie had a great weekend - a sleepover with a friend, Karaoke night, bowling, craft-making and dinner out at Applebees. She continues to amaze us with her energy.
She is going to try to go to school for a little while tomorrow. What a joy it is to be seeing her like this!

Thank you for your support.

Love, Gina


Monday, March 20, 2000 at 12:43 PM (CST)

Today we went to Albany Medical Center to check Catie's counts, assuming that she would need platelets. Well, her counts were beautiful and we got to go shopping instead.

Catie had a great weekend. She danced all night at Karaoke night, made crafts at Michael's Craft store,had a friend sleepover, went bowling, and went out to Applebees for dinner.

Right now she is doing homework and listening to a new CD. It is great just enjoying the everyday things.

Love, Gina


Friday, March 17, 2000 at 06:15 PM (CST)

I believe that it is the little things that make a miracle. I brought Catie into school with me today so that we could deliver cookies to her brother's class. We stopped down in her classroom where everyone was thrilled to see her. She worked in the library and then was making masks with the kids at her desk. When it was time for me to leave (I had to be home to get Johnny off the bus), she asked if she could stay. Her teacher offered to drive her home. So with a kiss and a hug, she finished off the school day. We talked about her going for a little while next week and she was upset that she might need platelets on Monday because she wanted to go to school. Right now she is at Karaoke night at her school with our neighbors. It is something so normal and everydayish, yet so special. We are blessed to have her and we are thankful every day. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts - they seem to be working. We may not get the big miracle, but the little ones sure make us thankful. Happy St. Patrick's Day. Love, Gina


Thursday, March 16, 2000 at 04:35 PM (CST)

Hi everyone - We went to Albany Med today to check counts and the doctors were so happy to see how well Catie is doing. She may need platelets on Monday, but for now everything looks good. Catie's art teacher, Mrs. Wheeler came over today and she and Catie made masks. They are so cool! Potter continues to grow and amuse us. She is so cute. She thinks Remy is her toy. Of course, Remy is a 110 pound golden retriever and acts like her babysitter. We hope to do some fun stuff this weekend - arts and crafts, bowling etc. We'll let you know. Thanks for thinking of us. Love, Gina


Tuesday, March 14, 2000 at 10:10 AM (CST)

Catie and I got back from NYC yesterday. She only needed to have blood drawn and a quick exam. Her energy level continues to increase - which is a joy to all of us. Since yesterday was her birthday, she had a party in the playroom at Sloan-Kettering. Then we came home and celebrated again! Our neighbors, Nancy, Khris, Ashley, David and Kyle along with Aunt Terry, Uncle Jeff, Tess and Ethan had pizza and cake with us. It was a wonderful day and a wonderful milestone! We are enjoying each day. Catie slept in her own room for the first time in about 3 months and I even got her to do some schoolwork. Her prom dress has arrived and is GORGEOUS! She now has shoes to match. We are all going to try to go down for the prom. Thank you everyone for your support and prayers. It certainly seems to be helping. Love, Gina


Thursday, March 09, 2000 at 06:21 PM (CST)

We just got back from NYC and things went well. The doctors were thrilled to see Catie, especially since she was running around the hospital. She got the Rebeccamycin on Monday and we had to stick around for several blood draws. On Tuesday, she only needed one blood draw and then we were off to FAO Schwarz, Warner Brothers, Beni Hana's, Borders Books and the Little Shop of Plaster. Wednesday was a totally free day, so I got a haircut and then we were off to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We saw the mummy exhibit and the impressionists. Catie really enjoyed it - especially the gift store. Then off to Burger King. We found the Children's Place and Catie got several new outfits (adorable capri pants, etc.) and then to Barnes and Noble. Needless to say, I was exhausted while she was still raring to go. She is happy to be home. She got her prom dress today and it is beautiful. We are enjoying every minute!!


Thursday, March 09, 2000 at 06:21 PM (CST)

We just got back from NYC and things went well. The doctors were thrilled to see Catie, especially since she was running around the hospital. She got the Rebeccamycin on Monday and we had to stick around for several blood draws. On Tuesday, she only needed one blood draw and then we were off to FAO Schwarz, Warner Brothers, Beni Hana's, Borders Books and the Little Shop of Plaster. Wednesday was a totally free day, so I got a haircut and then we were off to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We saw the mummy exhibit and the impressionists. Catie really enjoyed it - especially the gift store. Then off to Burger King. We found the Children's Place and Catie got several new outfits (adorable capri pants, etc.) and then to Barnes and Noble. Needless to say, I was exhausted while she was still raring to go. She is happy to be home. She got her prom dress today and it is beautiful. We are enjoying every minute!!


Friday, March 03, 2000 at 08:27 PM (CST)

We just got home from Catie's birthday party at Jeeper's playland and it was a huge success. Catie never stopped smiling. Of course, in all the excitement, I forgot a whole bag of gifts there. But the biggest gift of all was Catie - smiling, happy and full of energy. It was a miracle!! Love, Gina


Thursday, March 02, 2000 at 06:25 AM (CST)

Catie and I just got back from NY last night. She had full workup - bone scan, bone marrows, CT, MIBG, X-ray and ekg. Her CT looks the best it has in six months. The radiation really helped, but the thalidomide didn't. The doctors, however, couldn't believe how good she looked and how well she is doing. WE ARE GOING TO START TREATMENT AGAIN NEXT WEEK! We had a great time in between tests. We made it to Beni Hana and FAO Schwarz and the Store of Knowledge. We also went to the Hayden Planetarium which was amazing. But the best part was watching Catie and her friend Kevin. The two had a great time together. They even picked out her prom dress - he wanted one that would swirl when he twirled her. And I ordered it of course. I can't believe that I am actually planning for something in June. Needless to say, even though there is no guarantee, it feels good to feel hopeful. Love, Gina


Friday, February 25, 2000 at 04:06 PM (CST)

Happy Friday. Catie continues to feel good. She is having her friend Jeannette sleep over tonight (something that hasn't happened in a while). We head to NY on Monday for scans. Treatment won't start until the following week because we have her birthday party on the 3rd. Catie's energy level seems to increase daily and we are having a great time. The dog certainly adds an element of fun (a/k/a chaos) to the house. But we love her. Next week we will be seeing her friend Kevin in NY. We already have plans for Beni Hana's, the Hayden Planetarium and the Little Shop of Plaster. I hope I can keep up. Have a great weekend. Gina


Wednesday, February 23, 2000 at 08:23 PM (CST)

Catie has been having a great time. She's been sledding twice and loves to go to the mall. Of course, Potter is keeping her busy. Arthur was great! She and her brothers and cousin Tess all had a wonderful time. There are new pictures - one of the limo ride to Backstreet Boys and the other with Potter Gryffindor Hoch. Take a look!


Sunday, February 20, 2000 at 07:31 PM (CST)

We made it to Arthur today. It was adorable. And then out for ice cream. Friends came over to see Potter, who has been a very good girl. Aunt Michelle and Uncle Steph along with Dylan and Joan are coming for a visit tomorrow. We are putting off going to NY until next week so they can schedule everything. We had a great day! There is a new photo and hopefully Potter will appear in them next week.


Saturday, February 19, 2000 at 12:31 PM (CST)

Potter Gryffindor Hoch came home yesterday and she is adorable. She has been very good except that she howled all night long. We love having her, though. Catie and her brothers are off playing laser tag and then we will probably go sledding. Tomorrow we are going to see Arthur (the aardvark) - a play in Schenectady. And then off to NYC next week.


Thursday, February 17, 2000 at 07:53 PM (CST)

Catie continues to feel well and has energy. We talked to her doctor in NY and have decided to go down next week and start Rebeccamycin. It shouldn't make her sick and she is looking forward to checking out her favorite spots in the city. Tomorrow, Potter Gryffindor Hoch, our siberian husky puppy comes home. Wish us luck.


Wednesday, February 16, 2000 at 07:41 PM (CST)

Yesterday was a big day. Catie went to school for her Valentine's Day party and had a great time. And then it was the Back Street Boys. They were awesome and we even got to go in a limo. We think Brian waved at Catie. Catie had an x-ray today and things are stable, so we may be trying some new treatment. Her energy continues to amaze us.


Wednesday, February 16, 2000 at 07:41 PM (CST)

Yesterday was a big day. Catie went to school for her Valentine's Day party and had a great time. And then it was the Back Street Boys. They were awesome and we even got to go in a limo. We think Brian waved at Catie. Catie had an x-ray today and things are stable, so we may be trying some new treatment. Her energy continues to amaze us.


Monday, February 14, 2000 at 07:24 PM (CST)

Thank you, thank you, thank you! To all of you wonderful, caring people who sent valentines, flowers, balloons and presents, we don't know how to express our gratitude. Our house looks beautiful with all of the pink and red, and we have kept many delivery people very busy. Thanks so much. It has made a world of difference. We are all smiling!!


Monday, February 14, 2000 at 10:06 AM (CST)

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!! We are having a snow day here so the kids are here and trying to be nice to each other (with a little prodding from me). Catie's new puppy is coming on Friday. Her name is Potter Gryffindor Hoch. For those Harry Potter fans, you will understand. Today, we are planning a Valentine's Day Party for the kids at Albany Med.


Friday, February 11, 2000 at 03:02 PM (CST)

Catie was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in July of 1997 as stage 1. She was clean for a whole year and at her one year checkup it was in her liver, lungs and around her spinal column. We immediately went to Memorial Sloan-Kettering in NYC. Her brothers - Robby and Johnny stayed home with her dad, while she and her mom lived at the Ronald McDonald House. Catie had several surgeries, radiation, chemo, arsenic, oral chemo and more radiation. She is now home on hospice care and enjoying every minute. Thank you for visiting us.


Friday, February 11, 2000 at 03:02 PM (CST)

Catie is looking forward to Valentine's Day. She wants to thank EVERYONE who was kind enough to send her cards. Our house is wallpapered with them. Next Tuesday she will be going to the Backstreet Boys and then the next week we are getting a Siberian Husky puppy. Does that sound busy enough?!!


Catie loved NY and had loads of fun. We went to FAO Schwarz, Central Park, the Bronx Zoo, the Little Shop of Plaster and anywhere else she could talk her mother into going. Catie has two younger brothers - Robby age 7 and Johnny age 4.

 

 
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