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stories | Kaity

If you meet Kaity, you'll no doubt notice the artwork on her body- the words, phrases, and symbols- each with their own story. Like many tattoos, each one is significant. Some of them, painfully so.

I didn't meet Kaity in person at first. I "met" her and her Doodle, Hope, through Instagram. I found myself pouring over every blog she posted, each part of her journey and perspective leaving me practically speechless. I had walked past her a couple of times in the local coffee shop where she often works, but being the introvert I am, I never introduced myself. Then one day, I got an email from her, asking if I would shoot some images for her new website. Thus began a creative collaboration and our friendship.

Several months later, she and I are back at that same coffee shop. She is so very easy to talk to. Her hugs are genuine and not rushed, and there’s a depth to her- a transparency that simply can’t be faked. Our conversation turned to her most recent aspiration: to eventually own and run her own retreat center and provide respite for those who have endured physical or emotional trauma. At 39 years old, it’s a complete 180 shift from her current job as a lawyer. Even more than that, it's a risk- but certainly, this isn’t the first time she’s faced one of those.

Two years ago, Kaity was diagnosed with Stage III Ovarian Cancer. She underwent a partial hysterectomy (removal of her ovaries and tubes, but not her uterus) and then entered a clinical trial that required six rounds of chemotherapy- a combination of both oral chemo and infusions. It was a routine that, unfortunately, she was already familiar with. You see, fourteen years earlier, she was also diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma- a disease that had no connection whatsoever to the ovarian cancer that would later be discovered. And in the time frame between those two diagnoses, (her Lymphoma went into remission and never returned), she entered a recovery program to get sober, and also went through a divorce. To many- herself included- it seemed that she was being stripped of every remaining shred of security and dignity she possessed.

So when she started the clinical trial for her ovarian cancer, she was determined to leave no facet of her health untouched. In conjunction with her oral chemo and chemo infusions, she also worked with a medical intuitive as well as a physician who practiced a combination of both eastern and western medicine (these two became her primary alternative healers). She also worked with a trauma coach, her 12-step sponsor, her therapist, and an acupuncturist. Afterward, she was devastated to learn that the chemotherapy didn't work.

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“Sometimes, I feel like a phony,” she said to me while she sipped her tea in Stir Crazy that morning. She had recently been talking to her mentor in the program she's doing to become certified as an Ayurvedic lifestyle coach. “Sometimes I think, ‘who am I to open a retreat center??’” Perhaps it was a rhetorical question, but I couldn't stop myself from answering anyway. My response to her was simple. I looked at her point-blank and said, “because you heard very clearly that you were supposed to do this.”