When Katie Murphy, Chapman, started her junior year of high school she was a normal teenager. But just after her 16th birthday she got the shock of a lifetime when she was diagnosed with Stage III Hodgkin's Disease, a form of lymphoma, a blood cancer.
Katie was determined not to let her illness get in the way of her life. Even after she started chemotherapy at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, Cal., she still managed to attend school every day and achieved her first 4.0 GPA. Though the chemo caused her to lose her hair, she wore different wigs every day depending on her mood or how she wanted to look. When two-hour drives to the hospital for radiation became part of her daily routine, Katie kept a positive outlook.
As part of her treatment, Katie had a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) surgically placed into her arm. The medical staff covered the line with a standard cotton webbed cover, but it just didn't feel right to Katie. "The cover made me look and feel like I was sick, and it was a constant reminder that I was a patient," she says. Katie, a self-proclaimed free spirit, longed for a way to regain her sense of style. This desire led Katie to fashion a more attractive cover for her PICC line. Her newfound form of self-expression helped keep her spirits up while battling her serious illness.
Now in remission and a sophomore studying art at Chapman University, Katie has formed the PICColina Foundation as a way to share her creations with other children undergoing chemotherapy. The PICColina Foundation recognizes the need for pediatric cancer patients to have creative expression while undergoing intense medical treatments by designing and providing them with attractive arm covers to protect PICC lines. Katie is dedicated to ensuring that her designs are made available to pediatric oncology patients in addition to donating funds raised to various cancer charities.
This year, Katie is representing the PICColina Foundation in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Man & Woman of the Year fundraising campaign. Throughout the 10-week campaign, which takes place in communities across the country, participants vie for title of Man or Woman of the year. This title is awarded to those in each community who raise the most funds during that time. The top local fundraisers in the country also receive national titles. Starting March 7, Katie will be accepting donations for her campaign. She is also accepting items to be auctioned off at the final campaign event.