Medical miracle gives young woman who battled cancer new life

(WXYZ) - Do you believe in medical miracles? A young woman in Waterford sure does after modern medicine and treatment breakthroughs have given her a chance to live the type of life that may have been impossible just 10 years ago.

Shortly after Katie Raupp made it through her cancer treatment, her dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He told her the first person he thought of was her-- and if she could be strong and fight such a battle, he could too.
Katie Raupp is a free spirit and with her bleach blond hair, the former gymnast would stand out in a crowd. For her boyfriend Mike, it was love at first sight.

"I was truly in love with her," said Mike. 

He was only 20 and never imagined Katie would be diagnosed with cancer so soon after they fell in love. It was leukemia.

"I was 19-- yes, it was a shock, as you can imagine, it was upsetting, me and my family we cried for a couple days we cried," said Katie.

Katie needed a medical miracle--doctors gave her two choices for treatment.

"Chances of a bone marrow survival rate is 87 percent, and the chances of survival just with chemotherapy was only 5 percent," said Katie.

She opted for the bone marrow transplant, but once a donor was found, she went through chemo and radiation to prepare. That's when there was a tragic incident.

"I actually ended up in ICU, I had heart failure-- I thought I was going to get a heart transplant, I was in there for two weeks," said Katie.

Katie doesn't remember much. Her hair was gone and her once athletic body had shrunk to 82 pounds. Still fear was not an option. She was in a battle for life.

After five grueling months in the hospital, Katie was on the mend, but then her body started attacking the new bone marrow. Steroids helped tremendously for a year, but they ravaged her body and disease was attacking her joints. She turned to Dr. David Mayo, an orthopedic surgeon at Beaumont Hospital.

"I met Dr. Mayo and fell in love, I knew it was him who was going to work on me," said Katie.

He first did a ceramic hip replacement. Dr. Mayo also had to work on Katie's knees if her dream of dancing at her wedding were to come true.

It was an emotional journey for Dr. Mayo as well.

"For somebody young like and full of energy, I can't help but think about my own daughter when I see someone in her condition," said Dr. Mayo.

Dr. Mayo used a relatively new treatment to save Katie's knees; He removed dead bone and replaced it with a bone graft and bone marrow cells. And with that her wedding day was a day without pain.

"It was the best day of my life just to be able to go and celebrate such an amazing day and have everyone that you love there supporting you and they all know what you've been through," said Katie.

Now, Katie is fighting to gain weight and strength with physical therapy and she's holding tightly to the cross and survivor pendant given to her by her grandmother and brother with the message she now gives to others: You, too, can make it.


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