Motherhood can test a woman's strength, but perhaps not the way one local mother is being tested right now.
Catherine Ledlow, 33, delivered her second child five months ago. She had barely begun to savor the moment, when, just weeks later, doctors informed Ledlow she has a cancerous tumor growing on her brain.
"She has a low-grade tumor, called an Oligoastrocytoma," said Dr. Nancy Cersonsky. "A very big word for a relatively rare tumor."
Doctors at Oklahoma City's ProCure Proton Therapy Center say the tumor is treatable – 95 percent of the mass has been removed through surgery - and proton beam radiotherapy is aimed at stopping what remains. They say Ledlow should be able to enjoy a good quality of life. But this mother isn't taking any chances.
"The moments that we are having are so irreplaceable," Ledlow said to her children recently in a conversation that she videotaped.
Ledlow has been making videos for her two children, just in case all the treatment fails.
"I want to show you how strong I am," she said during another taped moment.
It's Ledlow's hope that her messages will someday be only a reminder of a tough time in her life – which she and her kids can watch together -- and not a memorial to a life cut short.
"I'm planning on being here, but there is a part of me that has to think about if I'm not," said Ledlow. "It's hard to think that I may not be here to finish raising her and I want to meet my grandkids, and I want to get old with my husband. And to think that those opportunities might be taken away is really hard."
She admits some days are more emotional than others, but overall she is trying to stay positive in this fight for her life. And, after undergoing 12 of 26 planned radiation treatments, Ledlow certainly hasn't lost her sense of humor.
"This is my waffle face," she said. "It's because you have a mask on your face that sort of grips you down to the table so you can't move your head very much – so that's why I have my waffle face."
Catherine is also taking oral chemotherapy. She does it all with a smile, for more than herself, it's for her family.
"I love them."
Catherine is trying to raise money for the Oklahoma Brain Tumor Foundation because they have helped her so much in paying for her medications. Team Catherine, a group of her supporters will be running in the Race for Hope on Nov. 2. To sign up to race or make a donation: http://www.okbtf.org/
She is also helping to raise money for clinical trials at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. Doctors at OMRF are working on trials specific to Catherine's treatment. You can donate directly to clinic trials for brain cancer research at www.OMRF.org
If you would like to contribute to the Catherine Ledlow Contribution Fund, go to the Bank of Oklahoma, PO Box 960051 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73196.