Quat was a Christian, a mother, an adopted grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, and beloved friend to many people. She was the picture of southern grace, and our favorite compliment overheard at her visitation just four short months after her diagnosis was, “She was a lady.” We couldn’t agree more; she was a lady by the truest definition, and this is part of the final Earthly chapter of her story:
On a hot, southern June day in 2017, after about a year of going from doctor to doctor trying to get the whispering symptoms of ovarian cancer diagnosed, Quatina was finally notified that the actual culprit of all her nagging symptoms was clear cell ovarian cancer. She was 49 on that day. Her daughter was 13.
While the news was surely unwelcome, at the same time, it was also good to know that it wasn’t depression causing her to feel full after a couple of bites of food. It wasn’t menopause that made her feel exhausted. Neither was it stress, nor her gallbladder, that was slightly bloating her and causing abdominal discomfort. It was none of the things that the myriad of doctors who had examined her had come up with; it was, instead, a cantaloupe-sized tumor on her ovary. A tumor that, by the time it was discovered, had burst and sent cancer crawling throughout her abdominal cavity – her gynecological oncologist likened it to throwing a handful of sand into her cavity – we learned that it likes to spread along surfaces. Stage 3. Very soon to be 4. Alarmingly, the cancer was only caught because of the gallbladder misdiagnosis (they saw the tumor while they were operating to remove it).
With a ready-to-beat-this-crap attitude, Quat began chemo just after mid-July, but ultimately, it didn’t work. The numbers went down after her first round. Her daughter played hairdresser and cut her hair, then shaved it. We celebrated her 50th birthday with a huge family trip to Gatlinburg, where we took what was to be our last very-nearly-complete family photo. After the second round, it was obvious that it wasn’t working. There were new spots on her liver and chest. She had to be admitted several times to draw fluid from her abdomen, which offered immediate, but temporary relief. It would always come back. Her family looked into some clinical trials at the recommendation of her doctor, but there just weren’t any good matches at that time. As a last effort, we visited a cancer treatment center near Atlanta, only to return a week later at the end of September with Quat under hospice care.
After a mercifully short, but exceptionally brutal battle, Quat went to be with her Heavenly Father on October 7, 2017. She didn’t quite make it to see her little girl turn 14 that next month, but her family got to have her for 50 wonderful years and we are grateful for every second. Quat was full of positivity, love, light, and gratitude until she passed away – never missing a single opportunity to thank any nurse, doctor, orderly, or caretaker. No matter what terrible thing they were doing to her, or what nice thing they were doing for her, she thanked them without fail. In her wisdom, she recognized that every single person was trying to help her, even if it was painful, and she thanked them. Even when she could barely speak at all. Even when she literally could not hold her own head up, she could always muster the words “thank you.” While it’s not particularly remarkable that she chose to live this way while she was healthy, it was stunning to watch her faith in action as she remained grateful and positive throughout her entire battle, without ever losing hope. It was this tremendous faith, courage, and strength that inspired us to establish this Foundation with the vision of spreading awareness and Quatina’s indomitable hope to other’s that need it most.
To memorialize Quat by proliferating ovarian cancer awareness and to support those diagnosed in our local community and surrounding areas. We truly believe that our God has plans to give us all hope and a future; our prayer is that we can help diagnosed women and their caregivers cling to this hope any way we can. Jeremiah 29:11