Williamsport graduate remembered as being strong and special

April 01, 2010|By DAN DEARTH
  • This photo of Katarina "Katie" Stains was displayed on the door of the Williamsport High School cafeteria in February 2009 during a fundraising breakfast for her.
File photo,

WILLIAMSPORT -- Williamsport resident Katarina "Katie" Stains was remembered Thursday as a fighter who didn't let the cancer that claimed her life claim her spirit.

Katie died Wednesday evening at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. She was 18.

"Her body just fell apart," her mother, Kirsten Stains, said during a phone interview Thursday. "She was surrounded by a lot of love."

Katie, a former cheerleader at Williamsport High School, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer called Ewing's sarcoma on Dec. 24, 2008.

Kirsten Stains said her daughter was in and out of treatment at Johns Hopkins until Feb. 1, when she returned to the hospital with a minor ailment that led to pneumocystis pneumonia, an infection that commonly attacks people with weakened immune systems.

Katie was on life support for the last 28 days of her life, her mother said.

"She passed at 7:03 p.m.," Kirsten Stains said. "That's when her heart stopped. She was peaceful."


Kirsten Stains said she wanted to thank the staff at Johns Hopkins and the local community for their prayers and support.

During Katie's illness, several fundraisers were held on her behalf. Her mother said the money was a blessing because she left work to be with Katie in Baltimore.

"They gave me the ability to stay by her side and take care of her," she said. "We had the entire community take care of us. There are some amazing people out there."

One of Katie's fellow cheerleaders, Carrie Loveless, said she learned Wednesday of Katie's death. Carrie said she and her friends had been preparing for the worst.

"Katie was amazing," Carrie said. "She never complained about anything. She was the most honest person I knew."

Carrie, 17, said Katie was an exceptional cheerleader who didn't hesitate to help the younger girls on the squad.

"She wasn't ever really too pushy," Carrie said. "She made us feel like we were as good as her."

Kirsten Stains said Katie was proud to be able to graduate with her senior class last spring. Katie was pushed in her wheelchair up to the stage, then walked across it to receive her diploma.

"That meant the world to her," her mother said. "The love of her senior class was so amazing."

For Katie's 18th birthday in October, the Believe in Tomorrow Children's Foundation held a party for her on a boat in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, where pink rose petals were sprinkled across the dock in her honor.

"She couldn't make it home," her mother said. "They made it special for her."

Kirsten Stains said she would return to Williamsport after tying up loose ends in Baltimore. She said the family will begin making arrangements for Katie's funeral service, which probably will be early next week.

"She'll be laid to rest forever with her grandmother," Kirsten Stains said. "Katie would have wanted it that way."

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