All out in orange: Sewing’s Story


On Sept. 6 by 5:27 a.m. senior Kate Sewing had been in the hospital for nine hours. When Sewing got into her room, the doctors told her she had Rhinovirus, which is a form of the common cold that is very contagious. Later Sewing found out her cancer diagnosis of leukemia caused her to test positive for Rhinovirus and made the Rhinovirus diagnosis more dangerous. Sewing was stuck in isolation for three weeks because of immunocompromised patients. 

After visiting the University of Tennessee to see her boyfriend, Sewing went to school thinking she had a common cold, but in reality Sewing would be going to the hospital just a few hours later and not leaving for 26 days. 

“After being admitted to the hospital, my parents started acting weird. That was when I knew I was really sick,” Sewing said. “I remember laying in my hospital bed, my dad took a seat on a chair and my mom sat at the foot of my bed. They told me that they had been talking to the doctors and I had to get a bone marrow biopsy. My mom started tearing up and told me that my diagnosis was most likely cancer.”

“I tried to keep myself together, but I started tearing up and then crying. My parents both hugged me and within the next hour I was in the OR on a cold table ready for my bone marrow biopsy,” Sewing said. “Before that I asked my parents to have some time alone. In the 15 minutes I had myself, I cried a lot, thought about all the fun senior things I would have to miss out on, I thought about losing my hair, and the fact that I had attended my last day of high school. Also about all the things in my life I wanted to do. I made a bucket list, the first being be cancer free.” 

Sewing’s diagnosis came suddenly; within the 26 days in the hospital, Sewing missed out on the beginning of her senior year and will not be returning to school to make sure she stays healthy. After the bone marrow biopsy, Sewing and her family would understand more about her future and treatment. 

“[Later on the doctors explained] that 88% of me had cancer. They explained how my cancer worked and what exactly they were going to do to fix it,” Sewing said. “I started chemo Sept. 10 and I received chemo every Saturday for four weeks. The chemo made my hands and feet go numb, made me really tired, gave me terrible bone pain, made me sweat, made me shake, made my eyes blurry, changed my taste buds and made my stomach weak.”

After almost a month in the hospital, Sewing was ready to go outside and be in her own home. Sewing will still be going back to the Hematology/ Oncology unit for chemo and other treatments, but she is no longer in-patient. 

“Leaving the hospital was one of the best days of my entire life. It felt so freeing. I had been stuck in that small room for so long, I forgot what the wind felt like,” Sewing said. “I started tearing up because I was so happy to go home.” 

There were three major things that Sewing hated about living in the hospital. One being the pole that she was attached to for fluid and medications and the constant beeping of machines. Another being the amount of doctors and nurses coming into her room at all hours of the day and night. Lastly, keeping track of the ins and outs of everyone in her room. Although Sewing was excited to leave the hospital, being at home was difficult. 

“I also did a lot of thinking about all of the things I had missed over the last month; when I was in the hospital it didn’t bother me that I was missing things because I was so tired I pretty much just slept all day,” Sewing said. “It was really hard adjusting back to my house and ‘normal life’ when almost everything about me had changed in the last month. I no longer looked the same physically, I didn’t have the energy I used to, and I needed help with just about everything I did.” 

Though the transition from hospital to back home has not been easy for Sewing, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Beginning soon is new, more intensive treatments that hold promise for a fresh start and the possibility of returning to as normal of a life as possible. 

“I start the next phase of my treatment on Oct. 25. There are three more phases of intense chemo that I will have to go through and then the longest phase which is maintenance,” Sewing said. “That happens last and I will still be receiving medications that will kill my cells but not to the extent that is happening right now. During that phase I will be able to travel, see people like normal, my hair will begin to grow again, and it’s sort of a transition back into normal everyday life.”

Sewing talks to other kids that have leukemia and some who have overcome leukemia which Sewing said, “They have made this process a lot easier and kind of what keeps me going.” Sewing’s plans have changed a lot over the past few months because of her diagnosis. 

“I had planned on going far away for college but if anything were to happen, I would need to be close to my team of doctors and my family, so I applied to some schools closer to home,” Sewing said. “I also had a pretty good idea on what I thought I wanted to do with my life career wise but after getting sick a lot changed. I think about maybe working with children that have leukemia as maybe a doctor or nurse.”