Helping brain cancer fighters focus on their fight rather than the funds
For three years we watched Kit, with the strength and support of his wife Rachel, fight brain cancer with courage and determination. Their family inspired us all. As their friends and family, our hearts would break wanting to find a way to help. Throughout their battle, the resources required to support Kit grew, resulting in an increasing financial burden. We started as a group of friends wanting to help our friends by raising money to assist with the growing financial burden; however, our purpose quickly grew into something much larger. We asked ourselves: Of the 22,738 people diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor each year, how many of them need financial help as well? How can we help our friend but also help others?
The answer: Develop an organization that will honor Kit's strength and keep his fight alive by helping families during their fight. Through our fundraising efforts, the foundation seeks to financially support as many families as possible within the Chicagoland area during their battle against brain cancer. The work of the foundation will allow Kit's legacy to inspire others the way he inspired us.
Kit's StoryShortly after Kit and Rachel were engaged they moved to San Francisco for a year for Kit's job. They were both very excited for the adventure of living in a new city while planning their wedding!
On February 16, 2007, just three months before their wedding, Kit went for an MRI after having many focal seizures (which they would soon learn were misdiagnosed for over two years). That evening, after being out to dinner with Rachel and close friends, he received a voicemail telling them to go to the ER as soon as possible. At 5:00 am the next day, Rachel and Kit went to UCSF ER where they waited six hours. They were told to wait for a specialist to come and speak with them. Kit had a gut feeling the news wouldn't be good. He had noticed the reactions of the technicians during the MRI, as they all came to stare at the image on the screen.
At the age of 30, Kit Harley was diagnosed with a grade 2-3 anaplastic astrocytoma-brain tumor.
Kit's parents flew in that night. Everyone was so shocked and scared. Rachel remembers just hugging Kit with no words exchanged.
On March 26, 2007, Kit went into surgery at UCSF. A 13-hour craniotomy, including 2 1/2 hours awake for brain mapping was performed. Doctors were unable to get the entire tumor; therefore radiation and chemo were now in his future.
Kit's recovery was very difficult; he did not even know Rachel's name. Words escaped him, and he was very impulsive, needing constant supervision. Rachel's mom is a nurse, so she flew in the night before surgery to help with his post-operation care.
A few weeks after his surgery, Kit and Rachel moved back to Chicago. They knew help would be needed from their family and friends-rides everyday for six weeks of radiation while Kit was also on chemo.
Kit's strength and determination throughout his recovery was truly inspiring. Just nine weeks after surgery, their wedding went off without a hitch and was the most amazing day of their lives! Kit skipped radiation on their wedding day so he wouldn't be too tired to enjoy the day. No honeymoon for the newleyweds, as Kit was busy with treatment. Shortly after their wedding, they moved into their new home in Arlington Heights.
Rachel and Kit were blessed with a baby boy on April 21, 2008. Bradyn was the greatest joy of their lives. In the fall of 2009, the Harley's found out they were expecting again. Their baby girl was born in May 2010.
March 2009 marked two years since Kit's surgery. He had finished 24 months of Temodar Chemo, and an MRI showed the tumor started growing. At that point IV chemo, Avastin and CPT11 was started. A couple of months went by, and due to some mobility deficits, an MRI was repeated, showing more growth. Kit explored and tried various research and treatment options and continued his fight everyday with strength and determination. In November 2009, Kit's condition began to deteriorate at a rapid rate.
On March 27, 2010, Kit Harley lost his three year battle against brain cancer. Kit took his final breath with wife Rachel, family, and friends by his side. Kit's strength and courage throughout his three-year battle was an inspiration to all who knew him. His courageous fight will live on through this foundation and continue to be our driving force to touch the lives of others fighting the same fight.