In the spring of 2000, Kate O'Shaughnessy was not your typical care-free university student. Not only was she fighting for top marks and the best internships, she was also fighting for her life.
Kate grew up in a small town in upstate New York before moving to Kingston, Ontario to begin her studies at Queen's University. A bright and motivated student, Kate excelled in her studies and enjoyed several extracurricular activities. She was passionate about the environment (making friends with trees at quite a young age), eager to help others, and always interested in living life to its fullest. She made friends easily and developed incredibly strong friendships during her time at Queen's. Physically fit, in general good health, and not a "sun-worshipper," we were all in disbelief at her melanoma diagnosis at only 21 years old.
The diagnosis came partway through her fourth year at Queen's. Kate was forced to endure several surgeries as well as multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation for the remainder of the school year. What is normally a trying time for any university student was amplified for Kate with the additional burden associated with fighting cancer - the long hours of travel to NYC, the painful and sickening treatments, the emotional and social difficulties of being a young adult with cancer - and yet, she stuck with it. With her family in the audience, Kate graduated in May 2000 with her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Biology and Psychology.
Kate never lost her fierce determination, which was evident at the Terry Fox Run – NYC in October of 2000. Suffering the side effects of chemotherapy, Kate was too weak to walk the course and was pushed in a wheelchair by our father. Toward the end of the course, with the finish line in view, she asked him to stop, climbed out of the wheelchair and, linked arm-in-arm with her team, boldly walked across the finish line. With a courageous smile, she promised to be back the next year and run the course. Despite her valiant fight, she lost her battle less than two months later on December 13, 2000, just one month shy of her 23rd birthday.
Her courage and passionate spirit have inspired so many people - many of whom never had the honor of meeting her in person - to get involved with Kate's Team.® Since 2001, we have raised over $300,000 for cancer research in Kate's memory - and we will continue raising funds, awareness, and hope until the dreaded "c-word" is just a horrible memory from the distant past.