Family mourns daughter’s death from same cancer that killed her sister and Gord Downie

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A family in Belleville, Ont., is reeling after their second daughter died of brain cancer on Thursday.

Katie Grouchy, 20, was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme last summer — the same cancer that killed her sister Holly over a decade ago.

Glioblastoma is aggressive, ruthless, and there is currently no cure.

It is also the same disease that claimed the life of Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie.

Katie passed away after fighting the disease for a little over a year.

Belleville family shares their thoughts on the second cancer diagnosis3:28

On Saturday, Katie’s mother, Karen Grouchy, gave CBC News an update about her daughter’s battle with brain cancer.

After enduring surgery and radiation in 2016, Katie started a trial form of immunotherapy.

Karen said the family thought of the treatment as “our miracle.” However, a few months later they realized the tumour was growing.

Test after test showed it was slowly expanding — despite any radiation therapy that Katie underwent or medication that she took.

“She did really well until early summer,” Karen said. “Then it started to get worse slowly.”

Katie’s right side began to go numb. She had trouble walking and moving, her mother explained.

One reprieve from the exhaustion of cancer treatment came in August. Katie turned 20, and danced at her birthday party.

‘Enjoy your moments’

Things took a turn for the worst shortly after that festive night.

“In the past month, the decline has been very rapid. She couldn’t walk,” Karen said. “It was really hard to watch.”

Her ability to speak disappeared as she started to lose strength.

“She was in there, I could see her, but she couldn’t get any words out,” Karen said.

At the end of October, Karen could see Katie was ready for the suffering to end.

“You always hope the trial is going to work, but it’s excruciatingly difficult to watch the decline with these brain tumours – they just rip the people away from you day by day.”

‘She was quite inspirational. Every day she got up and tried her best to do the things she could.’ – Karen Grouchy

But it’s not the final painful moments of her daughter’s life that Karen wants to remember.

“She always had such positive energy,” she said, pride evident in her voice. “She was quite inspirational. Every day she got up and tried her best to do the things she could.”

After her diagnosis, Katie led a team that raised $15,000 for brain tumour research in Canada. She also went back to nursing school for a semester, determined her disease would not stop her, Karen said.

Now she wants to encourage people to live life like Katie did.

“Enjoy your family, make good choices. Live, love, laugh. I think that’s what she tried to do every day and what she taught us to do.

“Enjoy your moments and make the most of them.”

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Family mourns daughter’s death from same cancer that killed her sister and Gord Downie

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