Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Very Merry Christmas

Good Evening Everyone,

What a lovely Christmas! I have to say, it beats last Christmas when my Dad was still in the hospital and couldn't be home! This year we went to my aunt's house and it was a wonderful gathering. It felt complete and the atmosphere was one of content and happiness.  I always find it amusing that after such long periods of time without visiting, a family can reconnect and enjoy each others company! It is so much fun to see the little kids and babies bring such joy to everyone's face! New life is very refreshing and at the same time it reminds me of the fact that I am growing up! Its a scary thought, growing up, but I have a plan to contribute greatly to something in my life and now I just have to decide what that will be! As for my Dad, he is doing as well as he can be doing with everything that has happened to him. He really appreciated the time he got with his relatives on Christmas Eve and he has had such a positive attitude about everything. He is truly a strong and loving person with a determined spirit! After his third round of chemo his counts dropped off almost completely and they are still very low. He also developed an intestinal infection that is minor and is being treated with antibiotics. On January 6th he will be going in for a bone marrow to see if the cancer has been killed off. Please send your prayers, thoughts, anything, his way! This is a very very important test and lets just say that passing it is the only option that has a favorable outcome! He also asked me to write a thank you to everyone who has ever donated blood! He has received over fifty transfusions so far and they have saved his life again and again. Never under estimate the power of a giving spirit! That is all for now! I will post again after the new year! May 2014 bring good fortune for all!

Laura Katchmark 

Dad cant have live plants in the house so this year we improvised and decorated our fake tree!! It will be a bittersweet memory forever.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Last Round

Good Evening Everyone,

Tomorrow marks the day of the third and final round of chemo (as of now). I have to say, we are all ready for this to be completed. The next round will again last for five days and once it is over a stem cell transplant will be scheduled just as before. My dad has been feeling really good lately! It is so easy to tell when someone is genuinely happy and feels almost normal and he is no exception. Just the fact that he has been able to eat fairly normally and participate in our family activities has relieved so much stress for everyone. The positive attitude that has been relatively hard to hold on to has started to slowly reappear and take shape in our lives. Unfortunately every silver lining has its downfall and tonight ended up being a bad night for him. The chemo doesn't start taking effect right away and he did experience some stomach pain and nausea throughout the day. His goal is to just make it through the week and I know he will. If I have learned one thing about my dad, its that he never gives up when something is hard (for lack of a better word). Please send your prayers his way! Your love and support is appreciated and my entire family is humbled by it. I will post again next weekend.

Laura Katchmark

I am not a person who is offended by many things. I am fairly even tempered and I don't believe in spur of the moment come backs or lapses in self control. However...this stupid "comedy" crossed my line of what is morally correct and appropriate. I refused to watch the whole thing but my god. ..whoever is writing this has no idea what it is like. CHEMO IS NOT A JOKE!!!!!!!!!!!! BALDNESS SYMBOLIZES THE HELL YOU HAVE GONE THROUGH AND WHATEVER ELSE THESE IDIOTS HAVE TO SAY IS JUST AWFUL.  Take a look for yourself and think of all of the people who have cancer and who just got slapped in the face. What is the line between funny and down right cruel.

. quotes
I'm not particularly religious but I do find comfort in this quote. I hope you do as well.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Good Afternoon Everyone,

Last year at this time, my dad and family were preparing for a dismal and depressing holiday in the hospital. This year, although things are still hard and scary, my dad is at home and we are preparing for a holiday that will be filled with laughing and food which he can actually eat! The second round of chemo ended on the fifteenth of November and the weekend following that was rough. He was very listless and unresponsive which as you know is unlike my dad at every level. My mom ended up taking him back to the Mayo and we found out that too many pain pills, and a need for red blood cells was what was causing these symptoms. He has been doing much better since then and some of his appetite has returned! As each day goes by, I have more and more hope that this will pass and things will get better. Just believe:) Happy Thanksgiving!

Laura Katchmark

Always, always believe

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Chemo: Take Two

Good Afternoon Everyone,

I am sitting here in class and decided to post just a quick update. This is the second round of chemo for my dad and it will last throughout the week. He is doing okay thus far but the chemo has kicked in a few times. When this happens he usually feels nauseated and pretty tired. I am so proud of him however because of the strength that he shows everyday even when he isn't feeling very well. I will give you an example that made me so happy and I know that he was thrilled as well! As I have mentioned in previous posts, deer hunting and hunting in general is a hobby and passion for my dad. For as far back as my memory can go, I can picture him going out in the cold November mornings getting ready to sit in the quiet and peaceful woods. I know it is like a sanctuary to him and the stories that he shares are some of the best I've ever heard. This year, despite all the odds, he got up and sat outside and got two deer! It may not have been the most exciting season ever but he fights the leukemia everyday. He has three days left of this round and then he has one more to go in December. I will post again on Sunday after this week is over. Have a great rest of the day! Thank you for all of your support!

Laura Katchmark

You make the best of it. I learn from you everyday. 


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

And Snow it Comes

Good Evening Everyone,

What a blustery and rather miserable day it has been both weather wise, and just in general today. In the past few days things have been going fairly well at home and at school. My dad has been able to laugh and do a few things in the kitchen despite his fading appetite.I have enjoyed every minute of that time. He even went deer hunting and saw about four bucks and eleven does. Unfortunately he couldn't get a shot at them but he had a wonderful time. Anyways...back to today. My mom and dad went down to Rochester for labs and red blood cells. They both agreed it was a very long day both mentally and physically.My dad was feeling pretty drained and he really needs to rest. During their doctors visits they had a few questions answered and I will share them with you now. 

1) Why didn't the stem cells multiply correctly the first time around?

Doctors answer: Think of it this way. The bone marrow can be considered a bed of soil. A good type of soil to have is black dirt which has the right makeup to allow things to grow. Your (my dads) marrow is more like sandy soil which has potential but needs a bit of extra care to make things work correctly. To do this we need to administer the chemo to give your body a second chance. 

2) When is the next round of chemo?

Doctors answer: Next week. It will last for another five days. 

This information is a bit scattered right now because that is how the doctors give it to us. The Mayo has done an excellent job caring for my dad but because this is just so individualized, they are developing the treatment plan  as they go. I will keep posting (especially next week) to let you know how things are going. Thank you for your support and love!

Laura Katchmark

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Setting In

Good Evening Everyone,

It will never cease to amaze me at how fast things can change when it comes to this disease. My dad is still doing okay but the chemo is starting to set in. He hasn't been quite as active as normal, and you can tell that he doesn't have extra energy to spare. Every week he goes in to get his labs drawn and he has only needed platelets once so far. He goes to Rochester in a few weeks for the next round of chemo and this round will again last for five days. In the mean time, our goal is to keep him happy and busy with little projects! I have determined that making him laugh at least once a day is going to be a new habit! Thank you for your support.

Laura Katchmark

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Fight Continues

Good Evening Everyone,

This week has been a good one for my dad. His first round of chemo ended on Sunday the 13th and ever since then he has tried to stay as active as possible. On Monday, I participated in an Outdoor Adventures (class at school) field trip and he came with me! We were shooting trap and afterwards my dad and I stayed behind to shoot a few rounds in the handgun range:) Things almost felt normal! Hopefully this good feeling will last for a while but as we know from previous experience there could be a few side effects emerging in the next few weeks. For now however, we are thankful that his appetite is still very large and he is tackling little projects around the house! As for his counts, they are remaining fairly steady, but are very low which is to be expected. Thank you so much for your support and love as the winter months draw near! I will post again next weekend! Stay warm:)

Laura Katchmark

Friday, October 11, 2013

Merry Go Round

Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to take the time to update you all on my dads health status. As you all know, over the summer he was declared  "cancer free" and things were going quite smoothly. During the month of August however, he developed a severe line infection. The doctors at Mayo couldn't quite figure out what kind of bacteria was in his body but eventually they determined that it originates from corn plants and pineapples. We still have no idea how he managed to contract such an infection but nonetheless he did and as a result his blood counts began dropping dramatically. At first there wasn't much concern over the falling numbers but just this month he went in for a bone marrow test and the results were concrete. The cancer is back. His bone marrow test showed about 10% blast cells (cancerous cells) present in his body. He began chemo on Wednesday of this week and goes everyday until Sunday. He will do this same schedule three weeks from now and then again in December. As a family we have been doing well with the news of the cancers return, or as well as can be expected. My dad is a fighter and he has loads of support. Thank you all so much. I will be posting weekly on either Saturday or Sunday from now on! 

Laura Katchmark

My family is my happiness and I love you all!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

What a Ride!

Good Afternoon Everyone,

I am so happy to be writing again! I know it has been a while since my last post but I wanted to give my dad a chance to worry about healing. Sometimes I find that life's best moments happen in the time that is undocumented and relaxed. This has been particularly true this week! My mom, dad and I took a three day fishing trip to lake Michigan to celebrate my dad's 50th birthday!! I am so happy to say that because for a while we weren't sure if we would get to spend that day together. Besides the fishing (which was awful) we enjoyed being on the water, cherry picking, and visiting a few little shops along the lake shore. My dad's health also allowed us to attend my cousin Michelle's wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony and everyone was feeling pretty happy including my dad. At the wedding there was a funny pictures booth and I have to say I haven't laughed that hard in quite a while. The big sunglasses, a feather boa, and a fairy princess wand that created my dad's look will be remembered forever along with a matching outfit for Uncle John (Best picture ever:). These two events are just examples of what my summer has been like! Aside from the adventures we have had, my dad  is still going to Mayo once a week for testing. Up until now things have been holding steady and all has been well. Two weeks ago however my dad did a bone marrow and had a few tests done. After that he got sick and had a pretty high fever. We just got the results to the bone marrow test and...IT IS CLEAN!!! THERE ARE NO SIGNS OF CANCER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This doesn't mean that things are over (it is just a progress report) but it is such revitalizing news!! He is at Mayo this weekend however because he got sick again yesterday. He had a very high fever and the doctors determined that he has a bacterial line infection. He is being treated with antibiotics and will remain in the hospital until Monday. I am so happy!! There really aren't words to describe it! For the past months my family and I'm assuming most of you have carried this extra weight that never really goes away even when your entire body is screaming in protest to get rid of it. Although worry is still a part of every day life I no longer feel like i'm being crushed. I only pray that it will remain like this and that my dad continues to heal and regain his strength. What a ride. What a life. What a gift it is to have my dad still with us. It is truly amazing how one person can belong in the hearts of so many. Thank you so much for keeping your heart's open and your love always present. More news to follow soon.

Laura Katchmark

Love is not love without someone to hold
someone who cares and someone who knows 
how life can turn from joy into fear
how you may need a hug or some cheer

through the darkness, the sorrow, the pain, and uncertainty 
people come together enduring one great mystery 
why are we here and why do we suffer?
maybe it will remain a question without answer 

One thing is true and one thing is certain 
Love is not love without people like you

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Welcome Summer!!

Hello Everyone,

It has been a while since my last post but we have been very busy!! School is finally over and now the fun begins! My dad has been doing wonderfully! He is up and about everyday and is keeping himself occupied with projects around the house:) Just yesterday he was busy fussing around with some wiring for lights downstairs! He loves making breakfast too and I have to say I'm not about to complain! As for his appointments, he is still going once a week down to Rochester and he has a bone marrow test on day one hundred. Although his counts have been coming up pretty consistently we wont know for sure what that means until we get the results back. His medications are still a bit of a pain but hopefully a few of those can be reduced if the results to the test are good. With summer comes new life and for us I'm praying that things will only get better. My family and my dad have come so far and for all of us I think we only have hope. Thank you for your support and love!
-My posts are going to return to random! This Sunday thing is not working because my schedule is extremely  busy! I do apologize for that.
~Laura Katchmark

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Your Half Way There

Good Evening Everyone,

These last few weeks have been so wonderful! I sometimes wake up thinking its a dream and then when I hear my parents making breakfast and notice that i'm in my own bed I cant help but smile:) My dad has been doing great! He has passed his 50 day mark and is working his way to 100. There hasn't been much news lately because his counts are still holding steady. The doctors haven't taken him off of his anti-rejection medication yet but when they do we are going to be looking for a rash that will signal his body recognizing the stem cells. Thus far the medication hasn't allowed for that to happen. His appointments have been bumped from 2 per week to 1 every Wednesday and that is very nice for him! I will post again next Sunday but until then have a wonderful start to June and hope for some sunshine! Thank you for your love and support!
~Laura Katchmark

Keep going Dad, you have come so far and you have been so strong. I am so proud of you and I couldn't have asked for better parents than you and mom. You deserve happiness. I love you!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Home is a Wonderful Thing

Good Evening Everyone,

For the past week and a half things have been pretty crazy! I apologize for not writing until now but between finals and the unknown schedule I thought it would be best to just say it all once. My dad has been doing fantastic and there have been a lot of new changes and updates! The first big adjustment is that my parents were able to come home and will only remain so if my dad is doing well and doesn't have any complications:):) He commutes back and forth on Monday and Thursday for tests and doctors appointments! This is some of the best news we could have ever asked for. It finally feels normal and right in the world. Its odd to think that we have all spent half of a year worrying and praying and through all of tears, all of the moments it seemed like everything was just stuck, there is a light that is growing ever brighter. Its hard to describe the pain you carry with you when you know nothing is as permanent as it seemed to be or when as your driving away you see your parents peeking around the curtain like if they just watch long enough they can rewind time and fix what broke. As for the second update the cells in my dad's body have become 100% Johns! The test that was done today proved that. However (and this is the part that gets confusing) there was a second test that showed that 60% of his cells were John's and the other 40% were still his. Either way you look at it this is good news because he is on track for recovery. As always thank you for your love and endless support! There is still a long road a head and im sure there will be a few bumps but right now we are all enjoying just a little bit of happiness!
~Laura Katchmark

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tables Turning

Good Evening Everyone,

I hope you all had a nice weekend! My family and I did! Both of my parents were able to come home:) My Mom had to work on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday but my dad got to enjoy being with my sister and I and just being away from the transplant house. He is doing very well especially considering how little time has passed since he received the stem cells. He counts continue to rise and his appetite is still present (a crucial part of recovery). He has been feeling a bit tired lately and today he has been feeling a bit sick. We aren't sure if it is just his body healing or if it is early signs of graft v. host disease. I will post in the middle of the week with new information. As always thank you for your love and support and enjoy the sunny weather!
~Laura Katchmark

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day 22/100

Good Evening Everyone,

This weekend has been awesome! My dad has been doing very well! His counts have continued to rise (platelets from 70 to 120 and his white blood cells from 100 to 400) and he is feeling even stronger than last Sunday! His appetite is still present, and hopefully he will start to be weened off of his anti-rejection medication soon. The reason for this is to check for signs that the stem cells have been working. The optimum reaction that the doctors would like to see is a mild rash proving that his body has recognized the treatment. Another fantastic piece of news is that my dad got to come home this weekend! If he continues his progress he will be able to come home every weekend which would be absolutely amazing:) As always thank you so much for your support and love!
~Laura Katchmark

I'm so proud of you Dad. You are the bravest person I know. Keep flying.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Day 16/100

Good Evening Everyone,

Sarah and I spent a wonderful weekend down in Rochester and just got back today! It was so nice to see my parents and to know that things are going okay. We got to stay in a hotel for the two nights we were down there but the transplant house isn't a bad place to be. They have a lot of rules but we got to cook a few meals together, and I played the piano they have for my dad. Originally the house was an old mansion, but they converted it for transplant patients. Kitchens, living rooms, and private rooms are all available and they have lots of little nooks and crannies which adds a touch of coziness to an otherwise lofty and rather sterile environment. As for my dad, things are going wonderfully! The stem cells are taking root and he is feeling great! He has been able to eat more and more with less anti nausea medication! Hopefully he will be eliminating all of the anti nausea medicine within the next few weeks. We got a bit of sad news this weekend. Uncle John Thrun died and my dad asked me to say that he will be missed. My loyal and adventurous hunting buddy also passed away. Sam my dog was almost 15 years old and he will also be missed. I will post again next Sunday. As always thank you for your love and support!
~Laura Katchmark

life, friend, quotes, sayings, cute, happiness

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Day 9/100

Good Evening Everyone,

Today wasn't the best day ever for my family. My dad was doing okay but his appetite was fading quickly. The chemo takes a while before the side effects kick in and once again his hair is falling out and he just isn't feeling good. This is normal but it has the tendency to make us all on edge. My sister and I were supposed to go down to Rochester today but because of the unpredictable weather we have had our trip was postponed until driving conditions are safe again. One of the hardest parts about our situation is just how quickly things can change, including our emotions. Sometimes, something hits you and you realize what a horrible thing it is to be separated from the people you care most about. Even though I'm a teenager I would be the first person to say how much my parents mean to me! Please give someone you care about a hug and just remember what they do for you everyday. Thank you for your love and support.
~Laura Katchmark

The Mayo Clinic Falcons
There are two falcons nesting on top of the Mayo Clinic building and they have put a web cam in their nesting box for patients to watch their progress. So far the falcons have two eggs and regularly fly in and out preparing for their babies to hatch.

Missing Someone Quotes Tumblr

Friday, April 12, 2013

Day 7/100

Good Evening Everyone,

This has not been the spring we had hoped for so far with all of this snow and cloudiness! Things are going well down in Rochester and according to my dad even the weather is sunny and warm! So far my dad has been eating and drinking which is an amazing accomplishment considering all of the things his body has had to endure the last six months. A lot of times eating can be the most difficult part of the transplant because of the nausea but besides the first day or so my dad has been able to keep his food down:) You may have noticed the title of today's post and basically I will be doing that from now on as a way of counting up to his 100 required days in Rochester. I will also be making a weekly post on Sunday to summarize the week. Most of the time my dad just needs to rest and so there isn't much to talk about! One thing that I would like to mention is graft v. host disease. This is a disease that makes accepting stem cells very difficult due to your bodies defense system. Just like you would fight off an infection or sickness (cold, flu, etc.) your body does the same to the stem cells. Some of the symptoms are rashes, mouth sores, and edema. With my dad, if he contracts this, his symptoms will appear on day 14/100 but we are all hoping that this doesn't happen. If you have questions about the disease please post them either on my facebook page or on this blog and I will do my best to answer them:) Besides the worry about graft v. host disease everything is going extremely well and its so nice to hear my parents laughing again! I've always loved how both my mom and dad are such funny people and to hear my dad cracking jokes is something I will never take for granted again! As always thank you for your love and support.
~Laura Katchmark

A Special Thank You

To all of you who donated hours to my dad's vacation donation bank I cant express how grateful my family is for your generosity. Because of your contribution we have received enough hours to put us in a very good place until my dad will be able to return to work. He will now be able to focus on getting better and for me that is the biggest gift you could have ever given us. Thank you so much!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Off to a Good Start!

Good Evening Everyone,

Things have been going well so far! My dad has been so brave and finally it is starting to pay off. The first few days after he got his stem cells he was very nauseated and couldn't eat anything. Today however he ate an entire burger and fries! He is feeling much better even though his counts have bottomed out. Now we are just waiting for the cells to start grafting into his body. If everything is going well during the first month he may even get to come home on the weekends! He is now staying at the transplant house and I have an address to send cards to:) There is also a room telephone number to call if you would like to talk to him and don't already have his cell phone number. As always thank you for your love and support!
~Laura Katchmark

Gift of Life, inc. 705 second street SW
Rochester MN 55902. Room 36.

Phone Number

Friday, April 5, 2013


Good Evening Everybody,

Today is the big day! For all of the hell, through all of the tears, prayers, and sleepless nights it has finally arrived. My dad finished his chemo on Wednesday this week and by the end wasn't doing well at all. One of the side effects of chemo is vomiting and severe headaches and those symptoms plagued him for the two days that he received Cytoxin. On Thursday he got his last dose of that horrid poison and hopefully it will be the last dose he ever has to have. Today at ten in the morning he got the stem cells and things went quickly and fairly smoothly. He is on anti rejection medication and is feeling very good. The cells will begin to grow inside of his bones (bone marrow) and produce the right blood instead of cancer filled blood. If my dad doesn't have a reaction to the cells in a few days he will go to the transplant house. When he does move there I will be able to provide an address but until then the house wont accept mail. Thank you so much for your love and support. In this day and age we have medicine and we have experience in dealing with things like leukemia but the healing power that you have brought us has been such a gift.
~Laura Katchmark

To the miracle of a cure and to the miracle of hope

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Day Minus Five

Happy Easter Everybody!

Today has been a very wonderful day. My mom, sister and I visited a charming little church for Easter this morning. We listened to music and it was nice being with people who were just enjoying this holiday. After going to church we went to the hospital and got my dad breakfast and made him go for a walk! He is very tired but he still enjoys scaring the nurses a bit with his "jokes." The other day he told the nurse when she came to get his chemo bag that they hadn't hooked up the bag properly and that the chemo had been running down the side of the bed. The look on her face was priceless:) One of the nice things about the Mayo is how they let patients go out on pass. My dad has been able to take advantage of that and everyday after his chemo at 12:00-2:00pm we go out and get lunch! Today we visited Famous Daves which inspired us to make a restaurant review for anyone who would like to come visit! Tomorrow will be his last day of Busolfan and then on Tuesday he will start getting Cyclophosphamide which is the more toxic chemo. He will have  to get a catheter put in for the two days that he will be receiving that to help his body function. He isn't looking forward to that but hopefully it will go fast. If anyone would like to call my dad in his room his number is 507-287-5308! Thank you for all of your love and support!
~Laura Katchmark

We have visited the following  restaurants:

Victoria's: 1 out of 5 stars (If you like Italian and are knowledgeable in Italian fare then this is a nice sit down restaurant for you but if you have no clue about what to expect like us you might want to have a back up plan. Sarah for example ordered spaghetti and it came with capers and a whole tree of olives that she gave up picking out.)

Famous Dave's: 5 out of 5 stars (As usual for my family of meat lovers this was exceptional and not too fancy! Almost everything is delicious but my mom tried a new dish which was the citrus lime shrimp and we all agreed it was very very good!)

The Canadian Honker: 41/2 out of 5 stars ( This little restaurant with its friendly atmosphere was great for a family or for anyone wanting a variety of choices in foods. I had a New York strip and it was one of the better dishes I've had over the weekend! The waitress we had was extremely nice and the prices were pretty good!)

Michael's: 4 out of 5 (One of the themes in these sit down restaurants are lots of very beautiful paintings! Both Victoria's and Michael's had some of the best. The food itself was very good but the dishes can get a bit expensive.)

Newts: 5 for the hamburgers but 2 for cleanliness (This little bar and burger joint is perfect for a casual inexpensive lunch. They have very good home made french fries but be sure if your ordering a burger to specify how you would like it cooked. My dad got one that was a bit on the rare side. It also isn't as clean as some of the restaurants but if you are the type of person who isn't bothered by that then try it out!)

They asked me what I love about my life.
I smiled and said you. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Day Minus Seven

Good Evening Everybody,

My family and I are in Rochester and yesterday my dad was admitted to the hospital for his chemo. Today he started his first round at six in the morning and was extremely tired and a bit depressed. He gets the chemo three to four times a day and will get the less toxic chemo for four days and then the very strong chemo for two days. These rounds of chemo are meant to completely wipe out everything meaning all of his counts will be at zero before the transplant. The transplant is still scheduled for April 5th so if everything is going according to plan my dad will receive the cells his brother John donated. I hope you all have a fabulous    Easter and as always thank you so very much for all of your love and support.
~Laura Katchmark

Monday, March 25, 2013


Good Evening Everyone,

The day has finally arrived. My parents will be leaving in the morning for Rochester. He will be getting chemo for seven days and then on April fifth he will be getting the first "dose" of stem cells. It's a difficult time right now. My family and especially my dad have all prepared for this day but it seems a bit unreal. I would like to say thank you for everyone's concern and love over the past few weeks and ask that when my dad is in the hospital to keep the positivity coming his way! I will post the address for the transplant house up on this site as soon as my mom and my dad are in Rochester!
~Laura Katchmark

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Good Evening Everyone,

Good news! Dean is returning from Rochester today! The doctor determined that the nodules in his lungs are not life threatening but he will not be able to be the donor because he would need further testing that would delay my dads transplant. The doctors decided it would be quicker and more efficient to have John be the donor instead. John heads down on Thursday for his physical and if he is a suitable state of health he will start a series of neupogen shots on Friday leaving the stem cell collection to happen on the 26th. The original date of the transplant will have to be moved from April 1st to April 5th. This post may look familiar to what you saw on facebook but my dad wanted everyone to have the correct information. As for how my dad is doing, besides the stress of when the transplant will be he has been active and happy! He is always in the kitchen and enjoys getting out of the house for some fresh air (much to my moms horror:) Thank you for all of the calls and emails recently! My dad is so grateful to all of you and says everyday just how lucky he is to have such a wonderful support system. Love to you all and all of the thank you's in the world could never express just how blessed we are!
~Laura Katchmark

Monday, March 18, 2013

Set Back

Good Evening Everyone,

I hope your last few days have been pleasant and warm! Spring is right around the corner and something higher than the 20's might be nice:) A few days ago my dad received the news that his brother Dean could no longer be the donor because of results indicating that he has nodules in his lungs. He went from being a potential donor to a patient at the Mayo clinic and goes back on Wednesday for a follow up appointment. My dad's brother John is heading down to Mayo tomorrow for the day to begin his lab work because he was also a match for my dad. He returns to the clinic on Thursday to begin his physical and at this point any health issues that would prevent him from becoming a donor should show up. If he passes the exam he will begin his shots of neupogen which will stimulate the growth of his stem cells and then after his fifth day they will collect his cells for my dad. As of now the transplant date is unknown because of this set back, but the doctors are trying to keep everything in motion for an early April transplant. Thank you for your love and support!
~Laura Katchmark

Tim's Quote of the Day:)

"If you run into a wall, keep running into it because your bound to break through!"

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Count Down Begins

Good Evening Everyone,

This week has been very relaxing. My dad has been busy doing paper work and getting ready for his transplant. The date he will officially be going to the Mayo is March 25th. He has a two day session on the 21st for final testing but on the 25th he will start chemo. The test results haven't come back to us yet so receiving radiation is still a possibility. Once he makes it through the chemo the stem cells will be given to him (around April 1st) and if his body accepts them he will be able to live in the transplant house with my mom. This whole process is supposed to take about three months and his projected release date is July 10th although taking things one day at a time is the best approach! I have every belief that my dad will make it through this but words of encouragement to him (letter, text, email etc.) might help boost his spirits. It is an extremely daunting and risky thing to undergo. As always thank you for your love and support!
~Laura Katchmark

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Family Day

Good Evening Everyone,

What a wonderful day it was today! The weather was yucky but my family got together to make keishka! My dad, my uncles, and my aunt were in the kitchen mixing up their secret recipe and telling all sorts of stories:) All of the standing made my dad's back pretty sore but his spirits were extremely high! As for the test results, they haven't come back yet but the most recent labs showed that his blood levels are all staying about the same which is good! Thank you for your love and support!
~Laura Katchmark
Thanks for a great day!!

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Good Morning Everyone!

My parents returned home last night and are very happy to have some time to rest! The testing went very well for my dad. Every day they had him doing multiple tests to determine his overall health so that they can figure out a "plan of attack." They also wanted to see if he will need radiation or not. One of the main differences between the U of M and the Mayo was that the U did radiation automatically where as the Mayo takes everything into consideration. The results of these tests will be coming to us soon! As of now the tentative date for the transplant is March 25th. If everything goes as planned he will have nine days of chemo that will wipe out his entire system and then they will give him the stem cells. His brother Dean is going to the Mayo on the 14th for a similar testing process to be able to donate these cells to my dad. I will post again in the next two days and update the status of the results. As always thank you for your constant love and support!
~Laura Katchmark

A quote about preparation

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Good Evening Everyone,

There isn't much to update on today! My parents are still at the Mayo clinic and my dad has been kept very busy with the tests they are giving him. On Friday they will be coming home and he will stay home for about a week until his brother Dean goes down for his testing. No news is good news so far:) Thank you for your support and love!
~Laura Katchmark

Sunday, February 24, 2013

New News

Good Evening Everyone,

My dad came home on Wednesday and got to spend three and a half days back at home. He went to receive six doses of chemo at Methodist and came home to recover from that. He has been doing very well! There have hardly been any side effects from the treatment which has been fantastic! Yesterday he even went ice fishing again and thoroughly enjoyed himself! Today my parents went down to the Mayo for a week of testing. Each day will be busy for them as my dad prepares for his transplant. Thank you for your support and love!
~Laura Katchmark

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Heavy Heart

Good Evening Everyone,

I sincerely hope you had a wonderful Valentines Day! Today we received the news that my dad will be leaving for Methodist for a round of chemotherapy tomorrow. His bone marrow test showed activity (meaning the cancer is reviving itself) and with this in mind the doctors decided to take action sooner rather than later. Although I am glad that my dad will get the best possible care, my heart is in fact broken. Its hard to tell all of you what this is like,seeing your family everyday wanting to just enjoy one another's company and love but then knowing that eventually things will be broken apart again because of this awful disease. I vehemently believe that being optimistic and having the right goals in your mind are half of the battle (my dad has been doing great with this) but the other half is in the doctors hands and perhaps even in Gods hands. For those of you who know me I am not particularly religious. The events I have experienced in my life so far have made me question things that I think everybody does eventually ponder upon. Perhaps its time to start trusting in something bigger than science and with that in mind I will pray. I will pray for my dad, for my family, for my friends, and for a cure to cancer. As always thank you for your everlasting love and support.
~Laura Katchmark

Child With Over Keeping A Grandmother Fighting Http Quotes Ive

Monday, February 11, 2013

Doctors Visit

Good Evening Everyone,

Today my dad went in to the doctors to get a bone marrow test and his blood levels checked. We wont have the results until Wednesday or Thursday at the latest and we are hoping for the best! His blood levels were very low however, and he may or may not need a transfusion and some platelets before the week expires. On the plus side, he is still feeling really great and has been doing many of his favorite activities such as cooking and going ice fishing (special thanks to Mike Katchmark and John Ritter)! If you have time, a small prayer or even some positive energy would be great especially in these next few days! Thank you!
~Laura Katchmark

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Finalizing the Decision

Hello Everybody,

My dad has decided to go to the Mayo Clinic for his transplant! It was a very hard decision but as a family we have agreed that he will receive the best care possible down in Rochester. The doctors have been talking about their treatment plans for him, and they think that it might be necessary to have him go back to Methodist for a five day regiment of Chemo before going to the Mayo. On Monday he will go in for another bone marrow test and the results will be what decides this. To decide who will be the donor, DNA testing kits have been sent to Steve, John and Dean. The doctors will pick who is in the best health to be a donor and then the transplant will take place (in about four weeks). As for what will happen in the three months my dad is undergoing treatment, my mom will live down in Rochester in a house that the hospital has designed especially for circumstances such as this. If the treatment is going well it will be possible for my dad to leave the hospital and stay in the house. Sarah and I will be staying with my grandpa and will be able to visit my dad on weekends and Skype during the week. Thank you for all of your words of encouragement and love!
~Laura Katchmark
(I readjusted the setting for posting comments and if your interested let me know if it is any easier to post on this page! Thank you!)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tough Decision

Good Afternoon Everyone,

Its amazing how the time has flown by. After two consultations, one at the Mayo clinic and one at the U of M our family is left with the toughest decision of our lives. Where do we go. From a statistical stand point the Mayo is more appealing. They are ranked fourth in the country for cancer treatment. They have a very nice facility and their staff is very friendly and cautious when it comes to hygiene (hand washing and masks). Being that it is so far away, my mom would have a very hard time working and would have to live down in Rochester with my dad. As for visitors my dad truthfully believes that your love and constant caring got him through the first round. I know its very far away but if you ever get the chance please stop by (if we do end up at the Mayo). It made such a huge difference in his well being. The last few days have been very sad. We all know what is coming and none of us are ever going to be prepared for it. The only thing we can do is continue to remember how special family is and take it day by day. Once our decision has been made I will update the blog. Until then, make sure you let someone in your family know just how much you love them because at the end of the day they are the things that matter.
~Laura Katchmark

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Good Evening Everyone,

These past few days have been very restful for my dad. On Monday my family and I went up to Duluth for a day trip. My dad drove the entire way there and back. We got some of our favorite smoked salmon and went shopping in canal park. I haven't seen my dad that happy in a long time! Next week on Tuesday my mom and dad will be going down to the Mayo for a consultation and the U of M will come later in the week. Because organization has been an issue between Methodist and the possibilities for the transplant, we aren't sure when he will have to go. Another thing that has come to my attention is that I haven't specified what kind of a transplant my dad will be getting. With leukemia being a cancer of the blood there are usually two options for a transplant. There is a bone marrow transplant, and a stem cell transplant. My dad will be getting a stem cell transplant. This procedure is just like getting a transfusion but it will talk so long because he has to receive chemo and radiation, wiping out his entire immune system. I hope this helped clear things up:) Thank you for your love and support!
~Laura Katchmark

Friday, January 18, 2013


Good Evening!

The bone marrow test results are in and the news is wonderful!!! My dad has passed with flying colors:) He is feeling great and is getting ready for the transplant that will most likely begin in a week. My Mom and Dad still have to decide between the Mayo clinic or the University of Minnesota for the transplant but once that is settled then my dad will move in right away. Thank you for all of your prayers and support! It has kept us going everyday!
~Laura Katchmark

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bone Marrow Test

Good Evening Everyone

I do apologize for not writing more often but there hasn't been anything to update on! Everything is going really well here at home. Its so nice to have my dad back in the house! He has gained about ten pounds since he left the hospital and today he had a bone marrow test. He isn't in pain as of now but he said once his medication wears off he will be a bit sore for a few days. We should get the results of the test back on Friday. I will post then and let you all know what the outcome is. If there is little to no cancer in his body he will go to do his transplant, and that is what we are hoping for! As always thank you for your continuous love and support!  ~Laura Katchmark

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Good Evening Everyone,
Things have been busy ever since my dad got home. He is healing both mentally and physically! Some who know my dad could agree that he has a laugh that is infectious! It has been filling the house everyday and we are all relived to know that his spirits have lightened. His counts have also sky rocketed! He is no longer neutropenic! This means that very soon he will be getting an all clear bone marrow test to make sure his cancer is still in remission. If he is still in remission then he will most likely go to the Mayo Clinic for his transplant. The lesson that i'm learning through this experience is that we just have to take things one step at a time however, and right now things are going well. Please keep my dad in your thoughts and prayers! Thank you for your support and love.
~Laura Katchmark
This doesn't just apply to family but to friends and those who have supported us from the start. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Going Good

Good Evening Everyone,
These last two days have been such a relief. My dad is doing very well here at home. He feels very peaceful and has been eating everything in sight. His goal is to gain weight before the next round. Being a family again made me realize just how wonderful my dad is. He is such a big part of my life and I couldn't have asked for anyone better. Thank you all so much for your support and love. I truthfully believe that things wouldn't have gone as well without that. As for a few more bits of info about my dad, he has a doctor appointment every other day to get his blood drawn and test where his counts are at. His white blood count is now up to 2.3. More importantly however is his ANC or Absolute Neutrophil Count. This count is supposed to be between 2 to 6.8 for a healthy person but my dad's count is at 1.3. The good news is that it jumped from 0.9 to 1.3 in one day! That is all the information we have right now!
~Laura Katchmark