Katie and husband Matt Birch with lots of pink at prom.
Within a few days following major surgery for breast cancer, Katie Birch was out and about. She attributes it all to the outpouring of love from the community.
"You know, I've been getting out a lot (since May 1 surgery) and a lot of people have been surprised by that," Birch said on Wednesday. "But I attribute all of that to the community, to the love that I've been shown. It's all been so postitive; I have no room for negative."
Birch had known of the cancer only a short time when, Cody Walters, a friend of her son, Isaac, launched a website seeking donations and promoting pink vests to be worn at Bellmont High School's prom last Saturday. Quickly, the outpouring began.
" I really want to thank everyone, the community. It's just hard to explain (how I feel). The gifts, the prayers, the food. It's just been overwhelming," Birch said.
"At one point I was getting four, five cards a day. Some had gift cards, some had gas cards, some had money. They all had love. The cards fill both my hands."
And the food. "I didn't cook a meal for two weeks (after coming home from surgery)," Katie said. "Tammy Smith (who operates The Hope Chest) arranged to have meals for us for 14 days in a row!"
It's far from over. "People at the (Adams Memorial) hospital (where she is employed) are still fixing meals; they go in our freezer for when I have a bad day; treatments or something like that."
Gross, whose brother, Luke Gross, was a rugby star in Europe for years, is overwhelmed by the young people who stepped up.
"The community coming together and getting me through this has just been something," she said. "And these boys, a huge 'thank-you' to them. What a really neat thing for them; you know, they're role models.
"And Cody, I can just never, ever say enough about him and what he's done. What a neat thing. He's just an awesome young guy. To do all this, to organize the donations ... well, like I said, he's a role model.
The reaction to Walters' post asking for donations spread like a wildfire. "You know, in the beginning I was thinking about going through this (the surgery and treatments) quietly. But Cody kinda blew that out of the water," Katie laughed. " I can never thank him enough, though."
She passed out a lot of personal thanks by showing up at the prom along with husband Matt and No. 2 son Maverick; daughter Gabby's been under the weather.
Katie's chemo treatments start June 7 ("That's when those gas cards are really going to start coming in handy.") and about six months later, the radiation treatments will begin.
In the meantime, she remains positive and upbeat. As this young mother who's made friends everywhere she goes says, "I have no room for negative."