Brain tumor claims life of Bowling Green sophomore

Abbey Brown

About a month ago, Bowling Green sophomore Katie Simon was just being Katie, according to her mother Carolyn Simon. She was busy making people laugh and doing her best to be a generous friend, her mother said.

But a few weeks later, Carolyn and her husband Don noticed changes in their youngest daughter. She was sleeping more, and her handwriting was becoming sloppy.

They never knew these changes in 19-year-old Katie were signs she had a tumor growing on her brain.

Katie Simon died early Saturday at Nashville’s Vanderbilt Hospital.

“Even though she only lived 19 years, she crammed a lot of living in those years,” Don Simon said, remembering his daughter’s trademark smile.

Katie hadn’t yet declared a major at Western, but her mother found an application for the dental hygiene program in her back-pack a few days ago.

Katie had just moved into Pearce-Ford Tower with her cousin, Brownsville sophomore Beth Durbin, in January.

“We were pretty much attached at the hip,” Durbin said, tearing up.

Katie’s father said life has been a bit like a roller coaster ride for him and his family.

“We are thankful she wasn’t in pain through the ordeal,” Don Simon said. “It was kind of peaceful. She never really knew how sick she was.”

The first change Katie’s parents noticed was her clumsiness. She sprained her ankle three times in four weeks. The third time she twisted it, her doctor put an air cast on her foot. Katie began to realize something was wrong, Don Simon said.

During dinner last Tuesday, Don noticed Katie wasn’t eating with her right hand. He asked her to raise her right hand, and she couldn’t bring it higher than her head.

The next morning, they took her to The Medical Center after a night of flu-like symptoms. She was so weak, her brothers carried her to the car, Don Simon said.

After tests revealed a brain tumor, Katie was transferred to Vanderbilt Tuesday evening, her father said.

Wednesday was the last time Katie was alert.

On Thursday, she was placed on a ventilator. By Friday evening, a doctor told the family nothing more could be done.

“He said, ‘The part of her brain that made Katie special is gone,'” Don Simon said. “He said he felt like he was an advocate for Katie and that she wouldn’t want to be kept alive.”

Around 1:30 a.m., after a lot of tears, Don and Carolyn told doctors to unhook the ventilator.

“The nurse advised us to step out of the room, but we made a promise to Katie that we would be there through all of it; so we stayed,” Carolyn Simon said. “Ten minutes later, she slowly drifted off.”

Don Simon said he and Carolyn are hoping other lives can be saved through their daughter’s death.

“If you notice some type of change in a loved one or friend or someone you care about, try to get them some help,” he said.

Katie’s visitation is at 3 p.m. today at Hardy and Son Funeral Home, and the funeral is noon tomorrow at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

Reach Abbey Brown at [email protected]