Catherine’s leukemia was diagnosed in October 2003 shortly after she completed her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology (Ecology) and was just beginning a promising career. At work, she was recognized for her professionalism, sense of organization, attention to detail and determination. On receiving the bad news about her illness, her parents were devastated. Catherine, however, responded with her typical determination, and simply asked, “Okay, when do we start the treatments?” She was a very sociable and warm person. She had many close friends who remained by her side throughout her ordeal. It’s in such difficult times that we realize the strength friends can give us.

Stoically, she went through two years of chemotherapy, numerous hospital stays and transfusions always with the hope of a remission. During this period, she established close ties with her physicians, nurses and other hospital personnel. Catherine loved to ask questions. She wanted to understand in order to gain a sense of control.

She received her last treatment as a gift for her 26th birthday on September 29, 2005. She could at last return to a normal life after two years of being unable to work. She was to travel to Vietnam to realize one of her dreams. Travelling was her passion and she was truly gifted when it came to languages.

In January 2006, she had a relapse which required a series of stronger chemotherapy treatments and resulted in serious infections, a cardiac arrest and a recurrence just before she was scheduled for a bone marrow graft. While it was discouraging at times, she was able to pull through thanks to her unwavering confidence even in the bleakest hours. She was a beacon of courage.

At last, Catherine received her graft on July 5, 2006. She left the hospital buzzing with projects. In mid-September, however, she suffered a major setback. Her leukemia had returned more aggressive than ever. She had only two months to live. A psychologist and pastoral animator provided her family with support to help them face Catherine’s last weeks with courage and serenity.

Catherine passed away peacefully on November 5, 2006 at age 27, leaving an enormous void. For the last three years, her parents and brother had focused their attention on her. They had surrounded her with love and support so that she could focus her efforts on fighting her disease.