A miracle of sorts has come to a young Spokane woman, battling a terminal illness. Despite two denials, anorthwest insurance company has overturned its decision and will now cover a stem-cell transplant for Cat Davis.
And she's sharing the news with her hometown on October 16th, her 25th birthday.
KXLY4 first shared Cat's story in late September. She's battling systemic Scleroderma, a disease that is hardening her skin and her internal organs and, if not treated with a transplant, will likely kill her within a year. But, insurance wouldn't cover the treatment, deeming it a clinical trial.
Cat's friends and family set out to raise the $175,000 they'd need to pay up-front for the surgery in Chicago. Spokane stepped up, helping to raise nearly $80,000 in a matter of weeks for the Cure for Cat campaign. People bought coffee, t-shirts and bracelets and donated through a website set up in Cat's name. Businesses came out by the dozen, holding fundraisers.
"Myself, my family, we're just overwhelmed by everyone's support," Cat said. "There's a lot of people out there dealing with illness and I just feel so blessed that my story has gotten out there and everyone is wanting to help."
But, Cat's condition is deteriorating quickly. She's getting worse every day. A finger infection forced her into bed for the better part of a week and her esophagus is so tight, she's not able to eat solid foods. She can't wait much longer. She needed more money - or a miracle.
Late last week, that miracle came in the form of an overnight letter.
"They made it all caps, in bold," Cat said of the letter from her insurance company, LifeWise. "[It said], the denial has been overturned. I just started bawling."
A medical review board overturned two denials. The insurance company will now pay for Cat's transplant.
"I can honestly tell you that it's because of Spokane that it happened. I think that because of all your prayers and positive thoughts and how this story got out - that's the reason why. I'm forever grateful to all of you."
But, the fundraising isn't over. Cat's deductible is extremely high. She has a contract with the hospital and has to pay a set amount every year for the next five years. Insurance won't cover the transportation cost or the cost for Cat's mom to live in Chicago during the three months of her treatment. And, there's no promise of financial help for any costs beyond the transplant itself. So, the donations still matter, not only for Cat, but for other patients just like her.
"We're just gonna keep raising money and until we finally realize how much I need, we're going to start the Cure for Cat foundation," she said. "And, all the money that's left over will go that fund."
Cat has always believed she was destined to help others. While she initially thought this illness would keep her from that goal, she believes now she got sick for a reason.
In January, she'll head to Chicago for chemotherapy, then the treatment itself. It will be three months of hell, then a new birthday - the day she gets her life back.
"I never thought something like this was possible. You hear about stories like this, but to actually be a part of one.... Spokane isn't that small and to have the whole town on my side and encouraging me is the coolest thing. And, something I'll never forget.
For more information about Cat and how you can help, visit Cureforcat.com