The butterflies represent medicines, the stars are surgeries, the hearts are blood transfusions and the red ones are blood draws. They’re “hero beads,” all strung together in a long rope to represent Kate Foster’s journey.
“Since it’s every single little thing, you can show them rather than telling them and hoping they’ll understand,” says the 13-year-old, who at age 12 was diagnosed with leukemia that forced the amputation of her left leg.
“I don’t really look at it very often, but when I do see it, it’s kinda like, ‘Wow—how long it is, how many I have.’”
With so much time spent in hospitals, Kate says coming home is “definitely a favorite thing.” And despite the turmoil she’s endured, the teenager has a fighting spirit.
Her father recalls a particularly memorable moment while Kate was in Washington, D.C., to do the CrossFit for Hope workout:
“She was about halfway through and her leg was slowin’ her down. And right in the middle of the workout, she just reached down, unstrapped it, threw it down and kept goin’. And that right there describes her: ‘Don’t get in my way. I need to finish this.’ I’ll never forget that.”
Video by Marty Cej and Jon Gilbert.
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Additional reading: Kate Foster: Tiny but Huge by Emily Beers, published Aug. 27, 2012.