Two, a little number, a little age. That was the age Kat was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in her eye.
"When you are two, you don't remember those little things in life, but the big things do take an effect. I just always remember my young years as a blank white picture, like a hospital blanket...My parents said they would tuck me in bed, and then they would go downstairs and cry just so I wouldn't see them crying."
Kat found Shining Stars later, when she was thirteen, a time when she needed some support and help navigating the devastating trauma of having had cancer. She was in remission, but cancer had left a deep impact on her life. Kat shared with us, "Cancer never really leaves you. There are physical things that affect you afterwards. And, emotionally it never leaves you."
When doctors removed her cancerous tumor from her eye when she was two, her eye fell deep into its socket. "I look different", shared Kat. "I've struggled for years with people staring. I like to say it's like wearing your heart on your face instead of on your sleeve."
When Kat attended the Aspen Winter Games Program for the first time, she finally got a feeling of complete acceptance and belonging. "It was the first time of my life that I forgot my eye looks different. It taught me that I am beautiful no matter what's happened to me."
Kat has since attended the Grand County Family Adventure Program, numerous single day events, and most recently the Young Adult Rocky Mountain Adventure Program (YARMA). She has been a mentor to many other Shining Stars and has even represented Shining Stars at various awareness events.
"Shining Stars is there to remind us that life is very precious and we want to make the best of it. And they help us make the best of it."