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Crawford checking items off bucket list

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Kate Crawford admits that it took a terminal diagnosis to make her realize the need to truly “live life.”

And crossing items off her bucket list for her family is what keeps her going, Crawford said.

“It makes me take time to enjoy my family,” Crawford said. “Otherwise, I'd get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.”

Last summer, Crawford found a mass in her breast. It aggressively spread to both of her breasts, her right shoulder through her right ribs and thoracic spine into her pelvis and liver.

Doctors gave her a less than 30 percent chance of living five years.

That prognosis led Crawford to create her own “bucket list” of things she wants to accomplish with her family.

Crawford is nine months into her chemotherapy treatments.

Crawford co-founded Project Sweet Peas after her daughter Shannon died Jan. 19, 2007, with heart and diaphragm defects.

The national organization helps parents who have a child staying in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Crawford took a leave of absence from the organization after her diagnosis. She returned to the board of the national organization two weeks ago.

This summer, Crawford's family crossed several items off her bucket list.

The family rode in the Goodyear blimp in Ohio.

They also attended a Pittsburgh Steelers game, and her three children — twins Grace and Lilly, 5, and Stephen, 3 — each rode a horse at the Fort Wayne Zoo.

They made a trip to Myrtle Beach. Crawford hopes to eventually make a trip to Australia to visit friends. But this summer one of her friends from the nation “down under” came to visit, and they went to the Pittsburgh Aviary.

She is volunteering at a haunted house in the Valley this month.

One of her biggest list items — taking her children to Disney World — is being planned. Kate and her husband, Stephen, plan to announce the trip to their three children as a Christmas surprise.

Crawford is giving back, too. Throughout October, she is operating a lemonade stand at various locations throughout the Valley to raise money for cancer research.

On Tuesday, she was at Snapshot 47 Photos in North Belle Vernon. Today, she was expected to be at Chaney's Natural in Monongahela from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Other stops are: Prime Rentals, Belle Vernon, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday; Belle Vernon Area football stadium, 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25; Greater Rostraver Chamber of Commerce, noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 26; and Checkers Boutique, 2 to 5 p.m. Oct. 29.

Crawford said she is already more than halfway to her goal of $3,000.

She will also take her “LemonAID the CURE'” stand to Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh later this month.

“They're really excited to have us and to have this happen,” Crawford said.

One of her bucket list items was so heartwarming it touched virtually everyone there to witness it, she said. During a Chartiers Valley youth football game Sunday, her 3-year-old son took the handoff and fulfilled his mother's wish, dashing into the end zone on the first play of the game.

Crawford admits she “cried hysterically” during the moving moment.

“I got so many messages from parents who were touched because those are things you take for granite,” Crawford said.

And she said there is a lesson in that for everyone.

“It shouldn't have taken cancer to realize how important my family is to me and how important my life is,” Crawford said.

“My hope is that other people stop and realize that and live life in the moment.”

Crawford's high school friend, Courtney McMahon, was with the Rostraver Township woman at the lemonade stand Tuesday.”As a friend, it makes me realize the need to take that time to spend with my family,” McMahon said. “When my 12-year-old has a softball game, I appreciate it more.”

“No matter how bad things are in your life, there's always things that are blessings,” Crawford said.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or

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