The family of a 6-year-old girl are cherishing every moment of the holiday season with her as she battles a deadly brain tumor.
Katherine King of Placentia, California, was diagnosed in June with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), or a brain tumor located in her brain stem, according to her mother, Jamie King.
"They gave her nine months," King said. That’s in February, which is her 7th birthday.
“Some kids don't even make it to five months," King said.
With such limited time, the family is doing what they can to enjoy the holidays as Katherine is being treated. They even plan to go to Hawaii next week.
"Her onocologist said we need to go now," before her symptoms worsen, King told ABC News. "She gave us a three-week window." Previous treatments did not stop the tumor, which has no cure. King wrote online about the search for an experimental treatment in a desperate attempt to find a way to prolong her life.
“Katherine King’s life is dependent on a drug that we don’t know will work, but is promising, in the petri dish and in lab mice,” Jaime King wrote on the family’s online fundraising page, explaining Katherine would have to stop current treatment to try the new drug. “The sad look on the doctors face is familiar, yet stark, every time.“
King told ABC News station KABC-TV in Los Angeles that she and her family remain constantly vigilant over Katherine’s health as she undergoes treatment, even though they know there is no cure for the disease. The family also wants to raise awareness for this rare kind of cancer, which is incredibly difficult to treat and has no known survivors.
"This one is right in the brain stem, everything that comes into the brain and out of the brain that passes through it," King said. "It’s infuriating. I just want to go in there and get it out."
The girl has been dubbed "Katherine the brave" by her family, who said she often worries more about making other people feel comfortable.
Family members are telling Katherine's story in the hopes of raising awareness of DIPG, which they say receives little funding.