BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (WKRN) — Just like the masterful artwork high school junior, Kat Edwards creates, she says God also painted a perfect picture of her life.
“That’s a great way to describe it,” Kat said. “I think He just changed a few lines, really. And it’s still a masterpiece.”
The brilliant brush strokes are seen all over her life, starting with a loving family with much to be thankful for following the day everything changed.
“We went to get some glasses,” Kat’s mother Liz Edwards explained. “[The doctor] just said that her optic nerve looked pale, and it was concerning, and it needed to be seen by a specialist.”
An MRI at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt revealed a mass on the optic nerve.
Kat bravely battled through 10 rounds of chemo and then proton therapy.
“She was very, very weak and very, very tiny. She had to get a feeding tube,” her father, Craig Edwards, said.
By October 2020, Kat was stronger. “She started ninth grade with everybody else, and that was really nice,” Liz recalled.
Shortly after, the headaches returned and Kat would sleep for hours sick and weak.
“It was dinnertime. I went to wake her up,” Craig said. “At first I thought maybe she was just playing with me. I couldn’t get her to wake up. She was breathing. She still felt warm to the touch, and so I kind of yelled at Liz, I said, ‘Hey, I can’t wake her up. Can you call 911?'”
Kat developed a very severe and rare complication related to the radiation she’d received.
“I told them that this was something that Kat might not survive—and that we would, we are, and will be, working to save her life in this operation,” said Dr. Michael Dewan, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Monroe Carell.
“I feel like everything turned around at the moment when Liz and I literally prayed whatever is in store we’re good with it,” Craig said. “There was a piece that came after that. That’s when it kind of hit me, that was the miracle. That’s when it really occurred.”
Out of surgery, Dr. Dewan told Craig and Liz the next 12 hours would be critical.
“Dr. Dewan was doing the big workup and he literally held open her eyeball and said, ‘I want you to raise your hand and tell me how many fingers you see.’ She raised her two fingers off the bed and the whole room went like [gasps],” Liz explained.
Kat had more to say.
“She was motioning, still intubated, motioning wanting something to write with,” Liz said “She literally wrote, I don’t feel good. Then she wrote, I need to get up, I need to go to the bathroom. We were like, come on now.”
That’s when Craig said he knew. “That’s the one that got me—this is my girl. She’s back.”
The journey ahead was long and challenging, but nothing seemed impossible with family and faith.
When Kat met Dr. Dewan after surgery she had a revelation. “I was thinking to myself, and I said, I think I know why he was the one who did my surgery. Mom went, why? And I said because he’s ‘dah-one and only‘,” Kat said, laughing to herself.
“Seeing her be brought back from death’s doorstep to where she is now. I mean, there’s nothing more rewarding than that,” Dr. Dewan said.
Liz said she knew there was still more of her daughter’s story to be told. “I knew she was still here because God wanted her to be here. I knew that He was writing this story. I feel like He’s writing our story as well.”
Part of their story is raising money to assist Dr. Dewan and his research. Pediatric brain tumors are relatively rare, which makes funding the research more difficult. The family hopes their efforts will save more children around the world with Kat’s condition.