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Rostraver mom continues to set goals despite battle with cancer

| Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, 12:56 a.m.
Kate Crawford gets a hug from her kids Stephen 4, Lily 6, and Grace 6,  on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 as they look over pictures of a kick ball tournament that was held on her behalf.
Jim Ference | Trib Total Media
Kate Crawford gets a hug from her kids Stephen 4, Lily 6, and Grace 6, on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 as they look over pictures of a kick ball tournament that was held on her behalf.

Kate Crawford's bucket list is filled with hopes and dreams, things she wants to accomplish in the time she has left with her family.

But her greatest dream is to find a cure for the cancer that has grown in her.

The Rostraver woman created her bucket list after being diagnosed last year with stage IV breast cancer.

“The bucket list is not necessarily for me,” Crawford said. “That's why I dubbed it the ‘Mommy Bucket List.'”

She and her husband, Stephen, have twin daughters, Grace and Lily, 6, and a son, Stephen, 4.

Last October, Crawford operated a lemonade stand at her home, raising $5,000 for the Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation and the UPMC CancerCenter.

“The little things most parents wouldn't think of are very important to me, like having a lemonade stand or seeing a child get an A on a test,” Crawford said.

“The things most people take for granted are my hopes and dreams.”

This year, her fundraising goal for the lemonade stand was $10,000.

The Kids II Foundation recently named Crawford a Pink Power Mom, one of eight women worldwide recognized for their efforts in breast cancer outreach and fundraising.

The award carries a $5,000 donation to the breast cancer association of Crawford's choice.

In February, Crawford will travel to Atlanta for the Kids II Foundation gala fundraiser.

“I'm looking forward to the gala and looking forward to being a mentor and growing with them,” Crawford said.

Crusade continues

Crawford hosted two other fundraisers this month.

On Oct. 3, a Paint and Sip event at Off the Wall Arts in Charleroi generated more than $2,500.

Last weekend, she sponsored a kickball tournament that raised nearly $2,000.

Ten teams played in the double-elimination tournament at the John DiVirgilio Sports Complex in Rostraver.

Township officials donated use of the field, and the Belle Vernon Youth Soccer Association donated use of the concession stand, including food.

By month's end, her efforts will have generated $25,000.

Diagnosed in January 2013, Crawford learned the severity of her cancer the following month.

Statistically, the median survival rate for stage IV breast cancer is two to three years, Crawford said.

“There is no cure for breast cancer, so helping to aid those efforts literally means saving my own life,” Crawford said.

Crawford has persevered despite many obstacles. She underwent active chemotherapy last year, but the doctors gave her a break in that treatment after her condition stabilized.

She now receives targeted chemotherapy every three weeks.

“It just keeps my cancer at bay,” Crawford said.

As the cancer spread to her spine and pelvis, Crawford had problems walking. So she undewent daily radiation therapy for two weeks. Radiation helps alleviate some pain by shrinking tumors, especially in her pelvis.

“Now I go weekly for physical therapy,” Crawford said. “Since starting physical therapy, I've been feeling great.”

Hair loss is often a side effect of chemotherapy.

Her hair has grown back, but “I would rather be told I have no cancer,” Crawford said.

Positive outlook

“My kids and my husband are the ones who keep me going,” Crawford said.

The bucket list provides incentives.

“Every month, we work toward checking it off,” Crawford said. “I'm looking forward to being a (Pink Power) Mom and doing what I have to do to find a cure.”

The award solidifies Crawford's role as an inspiration to others.

“It makes me blush,” Crawford said. “I want to inspire people with my story. I want them to know that no matter how hard things get it will be OK,” Crawford said.

The list remains

In January, Crawford's son will undergo palate reconstruction involving the roof of his mouth. That will be followed by therapy to reteach him how to speak.

“No matter what happens, I know everything is going be OK,” Crawford said.

Some bucket list items were simple, others sentimental. She hoped to see her children attend a prom, which happened last year with the help of Belle Vernon Area School District officials. Some items are dreams, such as taking her family to New York for an extravagant vacation – or curing cancer.

“When I wrote up the bucket list, the whole Mommy Bucket List, I knew half of it was unattainable,” Crawford said. “They are dreams, but right now dreaming is pretty awesome to me.

“Even if I can't cure cancer in my lifetime, maybe my kids will look at that list and say, ‘This is something Mommy wanted' and complete them.”

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

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