Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion (Middle) Nicole Erb chats with a friend while event organizer Kamrei Riley, and individual fashion consultant for California-based clothing company LulaRoe, rings up their purchases at the fundraiser for Kathleen Harrison on Monday, Sept. 5, 2016 at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion (Middle) Nicole Erb chats with a friend while event organizer Kamrei Riley, and individual fashion consultant for California-based clothing company LulaRoe, rings up their purchases at the fundraiser for Kathleen Harrison on Monday, Sept. 5, 2016 at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

Friends fundraise for medical bills

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Monday, September 5, 2016 9:44pm
  • News

In July, Kathleen Harrison’s doctors discovered her breast cancer — thought to have been wiped out by a previous round of chemotherapy — had spread to her lungs, brain, kidney, lymph nodes and spleen.

Last month she started her second round of therapy and again faces the piles of medical bills that rack up as tests are run, treatments completed and consultations take place. This time, her friends are stepping in.

Kamrie Riley, along with nearly a dozen other local individual fashion consultants for California-based clothing company LulaRoe, set up their pop-up boutiques from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Labor Day to raise funds for Harrison’s health care bills at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. Many pointed to Harrison’s strong emotional constitution as one obvious reason they are lending a hand.

“She is a blessing,” Kamrie Riley said simply of her friend.

The business owners will donate 10 percent of their profits to Harrison, and LulaRoe will match a portion of the price of each clothing item sold.

“I must confess, it is very humbling,” Harrison said. “It just makes me cry, you don’t expect people to be that good to you.”

Her first diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer — a very aggressive disease that often fails to respond to even the most intensive treatments — came in October 2014. Her first round of chemotherapy was finished by May 2015, and her mother was subsequently also diagnosed with cancer. Harrison attributed her constant fatigue to acting as her mother’s primary caregiver during that time.

“I knew I was tired but because caring for my mom, I just thought was really exhausted,” Harrison said. “It didn’t matter even if someone was here and could help take care of her — I couldn’t recover. It seemed so crazy to me seemingly healthy person should be so tired.”

It wasn’t until this July, the same month her mother passed away, that Harrison found out her own cancer was back. At first, the doctors believed the new growths might be a second primary cancer, but after numerous tests determined it was the metastasized breast cancer.

Through it all, her friends and coworkers at the Central Peninsula Hospital watched their friend stay unrelentingly sturdy.

“She has been an incredible trooper,” said longtime friend and former coworker Michele Petterson. “She is not letting things get her down.”

At the same time, she said, Harrison has continued to be a nurturer an emotional support for her friends and family.

Ruthi Riley, Kamrie’s mother, has known Harrison for the last five years.

“She is literally the kindest, most heartfelt person I have ever met,” Ruthi Riley said. “…When she first was diagnosed she was positive and she knew she could beat it. She was going to make it through have living life full of joy. She believes there is a plan, she is just a fighting spirit.”

Harrison, Ruthi Riley said, has also been incredibly grateful for all of the support she has received, including the many meals brought to her home, the GoFundMe page her friend started and the other fundraising efforts put on by family.

Right now her income is Paid Time Off hours donated by her former coworkers, but Harrison said, she hopes to return to work as soon as possible. She has been trying to rehabilitate her left arm, which has gone limp from the spreading cancer, and after her last dose of chemotherapy was very hard on her body.

“(I) feel so blessed,” Harrison said. “While this is no one’s choice for a diagnosis, I don’t know how it could have been better.”

 

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

 

 

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Nearly one dozen local independent fashion consultants for California-based clothing company LulaRoe set up their pop-up boutiques to raise money for Kathleen Harrison and help pay medical bills from her cancer treatments Monday, Sept. 5, 2016 at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Nearly one dozen local independent fashion consultants for California-based clothing company LulaRoe set up their pop-up boutiques to raise money for Kathleen Harrison and help pay medical bills from her cancer treatments Monday, Sept. 5, 2016 at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Summer Anderson shops at a LulaRoe pop-up boutiques set up for community member Kathleen Harrison's fundraiser put on by friends to help afford the cost of her cancer treatments Monday, Sept. 5, 2016 at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Summer Anderson shops at a LulaRoe pop-up boutiques set up for community member Kathleen Harrison’s fundraiser put on by friends to help afford the cost of her cancer treatments Monday, Sept. 5, 2016 at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

More in News

Golden-yellow birch trees and spruce frame a view of Aurora Lagoon and Portlock Glacier from a trail in the Cottonwood-Eastland Unit of Kachemak Bay State Park off East End Road on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong)
State parks advisory boards accepting applictions

Alaska State Park advisory boards provide state park managers with recommendations on management issues

A recently added port-a-potty is available in the parking lot of Slikok Multi-Use Trails on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Slikok makes sanitation upgrades

A port-a-potty was installed to due to the increased popularity of the trails

Sen. Dan Sullivan speaks at the Kenai Classic Roundtable at Kenai Peninsula College on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Local students nominated to compete for appointments in military academies

Students interested in pursuing appointment to the military service academies can apply for nomination through their state’s congressional delegation

Kenai resident Barbara Kennedy testifies in support of allowing more city residents to own chickens during a city council meeting on Wednesday, Feb.1, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai council bumps back vote on chicken ordinance

The ordinance would allow Kenai residents to keep up to 12 chicken hens on certain lots

Sens. Löki Tobin, D-Anchorage, right, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, and Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, discuss a bill proposing a nearly 17% increase in per-student education funding Wednesday at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini /Juneau Empire)
State Senate bill would bump per-student funding amount by $1,000

If approved, the legislation would bump state education funding by more than $257 million

Recognizable components make up this metal face seen in a sculpture by Jacob Nabholz Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Metalwork gets time to shine

Metal is on showcase this month at the Kenai Art Center

This 2019 aerial photo provided by ConocoPhillips shows an exploratory drilling camp at the proposed site of the Willow oil project on Alaska’s North Slope. The Biden administration issued a long-awaited study on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, that recommends allowing three oil drilling sites in the region of far northern Alaska. The move, while not final, has angered environmentalists who see it as a betrayal of President Joe Biden’s pledges to reduce carbon emissions and promote green energy. (ConocoPhillips via AP)
Biden administration recommends major Alaska oil project

The move — while not final — drew immediate anger from environmentalists

Homer Electric Association General Manager Brad Janorschke testifies before the Senate Resources Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Juneau, Alaska. (Screenshot via Gavel Alaska)
Senate group briefed on future of Cook Inlet gas

Demand for Cook Inlet gas could outpace supply as soon as 2027

Most Read