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My Life Now: Cancer Survivor Now Living Life To Its Fullest

  • Katie Then

  • Katie and Family Then

  • Katie Now

“ It really was so awesome to all be doing something so fun together after all we'd been through. ”


- Katie

In 1994, Katie’s wish of traveling to Disney World with her whole family came true. At just 8-years-old, Katie was diagnosed with kidney cancer. This diagnosis allowed Katie to qualify for a wish through Make-A-Wish South Dakota.

For her wish, young Katie expressed her desire to visit Disney World with her whole family. By the time her wish came true, Katie was miraculously in remission from her kidney cancer. Katie’s wish allowed her and her family time to relax and have fun together!  

A few of Katie's favorite memories from her wish were: visiting Give Kids the World Village, seeing Mickey Mouse, and meeting the Disney Princesses. Katie says, “It really was so awesome to all be doing something so fun together after all we'd been through. After fighting so long and trying to keep things ‘normal,’ it was nice to not even have to worry about anything medical. We just focused on relaxing and having fun. I love Make-A-Wish and the things they have done for my family and me.”

Due to her intensive cancer treatments as a young girl, Katie suffered from health issues and side effects.  Some of her treatments caused damage to her heart, leaving Katie in need of a heart transplant as a young adult. However, Katie wanted something good to come from the misfortune that she was experiencing.  Before receiving her transplant in April 2017, Katie decided to donate her damaged heart to medical research in order to help others dealing with the same issues.

Katie is currently 32 years-old and a nurse in the NICU at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls. She has stayed a part of Make-A-Wish by volunteering whenever possible. “It feels really rewarding to be able to give back and maybe give people some hope that things can get better,” Katie says.  She is now living life to the fullest, traveling and trying new things whenever possible.


I love Make-A-Wish and the things they have done for my family and me. ”

— Katie

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Make-A-Wish® South Dakota
1400 West 17th Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57104
(605) 335-8000
Toll Free (800) 640-9198
Make-A-Wish® South Dakota, Black Hills Office
14 Saint Joseph St. Suite 302
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 791-4500
Toll Free (800) 640-9198