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Shaye Marie: “Hope gives you the strength to move on”
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Shaye Marie: “Hope gives you the strength to move on”

Shaye Marie: “Hope gives you the strength to move on”
Photo Credit: Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby/Courtesy to WSB Radio

Shaye Marie: “Hope gives you the strength to move on”

Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby has a butterfly tattooed on her hip. 

"I had it done after my scoliosis surgery," she says, "And my mom was like, 'You want a tattoo after all you've been through? That's weird.'” 

"It's a good memory," smiles Shaye Marie. 

Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby/Courtesy to WSB Radio
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Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby

Photo Credit: Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby/Courtesy to WSB Radio

She's looking at a photo of herself as a toddler, cropped from a larger picture showing her being held by former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski. 

Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby/Courtesy to WSB Radio
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Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby

Photo Credit: Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby/Courtesy to WSB Radio

The butterfly on the flyer, which was the model for the one on her hip, is the logo of the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children, founded by Shaye's parents, Sheila and Rick Sauers, in 1983.

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Shaye Marie: “Hope gives you the strength to move on”

Their daughter had been diagnosed at Egleston with medullablastoma, a malignant brain tumor on the cerebellum, in 1980 when she was just five months old.

Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby/Courtesy to WSB Radio
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Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby

Photo Credit: Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby/Courtesy to WSB Radio

The prognosis was grim: Shaye was given just a 2% chance of living another six months. The Sauerses dug into medical books and sought out advice and support, but there wasn't a lot of it at that time--so the BTFC was born. It was a place where parents going through the same thing with their children could find support, information, and advice. The BTFC grew into a source that provided financial assistance for those families in the southeast. Bartkowski spent time as a spokesperson for the foundation.

In the meantime, Shaye was surviving. Photos show her blonde-eyed and smiling, whether posing in a studio or beaming from a hospital bed. She doesn't have much memory at all of her cancer fight, seemingly having purposely blocked it out, and is learning a lot of her own story now, as a 39-year-old adult. 

Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby/Courtesy to WSB Radio
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Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby

Photo Credit: Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby/Courtesy to WSB Radio

"I wanted to find out how it feels to be about to hit the big four-oh, knowing that as a baby, your parents were told, 'This little girl is not going to make it,'" asks WSB's Veronica Waters. 

"I would say pretty freaking awesome," Shaye Marie says. 

Shaye says her sense of humor helps define her, and says her father taught her to laugh, even as a baby. As a child, she idolized comedienne and actress Gilda Radner, who fought cancer herself, and rehearsed Radner's routines to amuse herself and emulate Gilda's positivity. 

She's a two-time cancer survivor. 

"The cancer came back again when I was [9] as bone cancer, from the radiation," she says. "The radiation that I was given at the time they don't even give a child today. It was cobalt radiation, which was the highest dose they could ever give a child."

Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby/Courtesy to WSB Radio
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Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby

Photo Credit: Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby/Courtesy to WSB Radio

She says she's actually just now learning her history--having blocked most of it out as a child, not wanting to hear her mom talk about it as a teen, not wanting to feel different than the other kids her age, wanting to fit in with everybody else. In the past year, she's started combing through two big binders that document her medical history. 

She remembers only snippets which she says are like scenes from a silent movie: “terrifying” spinal taps; a stay in the ICU; nicknaming the staffers who sometimes drew her blood as "vampires;" the MRIs that she said "sounded like a bad rock & roll concert," in which her mom Sheila would sometimes get fussed at for grabbing Shaye's hand and tracing the phrase, "Love you more" with her fingertip in her daughter's hand, wiggling her in the machine. 

That's Shaye Marie's second tattoo, inked inside a bracelet on her left wrist. She loves that one, and says it shows "pure determination. It shows somebody that can beat the odds of anything. I consider this not part of a bracelet, but like a lifeline." She doesn't cover that one up any longer, the way she did at her 2015 wedding. 

Shaye Marie says she's learning who she is now, and is no longer blocking it out; she's proud of what she came through. 

She tells WSB that the idea for the BTFC was broached in the very same room at Emory where she would meet her future husband, Darren Kilby, decades later in a brain injury group meeting. 

"Did you know when you met Darren that he was the one, right then?" Veronica asks. 

"Pretty much when I asked him out, yes!" Shaye Marie laughs.

 

Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby/Courtesy to WSB Radio
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Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby

Photo Credit: Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby/Courtesy to WSB Radio

She estimates they dated perhaps six months before getting engaged, both all too aware of the importance of seizing the moment. Darren had suffered a brain injury from a head-on collision, but Shaye says they were seeing a lot of people pass on. 

"We just knew that time goes by so fast, and we were losing every survivor that was around my time zone, especially...with the Brain Tumor Foundation there were a lot of my friends that were dying. He and I were both like, we need to do something," says Shaye. 

Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby/Courtesy to WSB Radio
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Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby

Photo Credit: Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby/Courtesy to WSB Radio

The night they were carting cupcakes in to celebrate the news of their engagement with their support group, Shaye Marie's sense of humor was on full display. She giggles as she recalls saying, "I don't remember if I told our brain injury group we're engaged or not. Well, it doesn't really matter because we're all brain-injured and none of us are going to remember if we say it again!" 

Shaye had several surgeries and hospitalizations, including two bouts of spinal meningitis. One snippet of memory involves her parents saying that one of her shunts had infiltrated her heart. She says a doctor doing an exploratory surgery used a hanger to get it out. 

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Shaye Marie: “Hope gives you the strength to move on”

"My mom and dad both remember the doctor coming out with the coat hanger with my shunt on it," she demonstrates, holding up her arm. "It was like a fishing rod. He was so excited." 

She had a scoliosis surgery at 15, in which she had two rods implanted in her back. 

"I'm a lot of fun to take through the metal detector," she jokes. 

She also deals with the autoimmune disease lupus and has endured some balance and coordination problems as a result of what she calls her harsh, but lifesaving medical treatment as a child. Her adult life includes regular doctor's visits and check-ins for one thing or another. But she doesn't let any of it faze her. In fact, she makes clear that hope is in her blood. 

"I actually have the blood type of B positive," she smiles. 

Shaye Marie now volunteers multiple days a week at the hospital which helped save her life, saying it was God's calling that brought her to donate her time at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. 

Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby/Courtesy to WSB Radio
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Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby

Photo Credit: Shaye Marie Sauers Kilby/Courtesy to WSB Radio

"Hope gives you the strength to move on. Hope gives you the ability to go through everyday life. You always hope things will get better. You always hope that if you you're ill, you'll get better. It's a very powerful word, and without it, you'd be lost," says Shaye Marie. 

"Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is a wonderful place to be. They saved my life almost 40 years ago. Parents, I know are scared; I've seen parents that are unbelievably scared when they come through the emergency room when they walk as fast as they can I know that they are wondering what's wrong with their child. I think kids are in the best place they can be. This place is absolutely wonderful. I've had the best number of doctors and people that have helped me along the way. I just think it's a wonderful place to give people hope that there is hope.”

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News

  • A PGA golf pro, his son and two stepchildren were among the eight people who died in an Idaho plane crash Sunday, multiple news outlets are reporting. According to KPTV, Oregon residents Sean Fredrickson, 48; son Hayden Fredrickson, 16; and stepchildren Sofia Olsen, 15, and Quinn Olsen, 11, were killed Sunday afternoon when two planes collided over Idaho's Lake Coeur d'Alene and crashed into the water. All eight people on the two planes died in the crash, the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office said. Authorities said Fredrickson and the children were on board a Brooks Seaplane piloted by 58-year-old Neil Lunt of Liberty Lake, Washington, at the time of the crash, the Spokesman-Review reported. Officials have not yet identified a sixth person who also was on the plane.  The two people on board the other plane, a Cessna TU206G, have been identified, but officials have not publicly released their names, according to the Spokesman-Review. As of Tuesday, crews were still working to recover two of the victims' bodies, the newspaper reported.  Fredrickson, the Pacific Northwest PGA Section's president, was the lead golf pro at Oregon's Oswego Lake Country Club, according to KPTV. “A rising star in the PGA, Sean led the Section through an unprecedented time, first taking the reins a year early as president and then leading us wisely through this pandemic,” the Pacific Northwest PGA Section said in a statement. “We are all better because of Sean’s leadership over the past 12 years.” Fredrickson's wife, April Fredrickson, told KPTV that her family 'died while they were on an adventure.' 'I think that, at the end of the day, they died doing what they loved, which was ... being together,' she told the news outlet. Read more here or here.
  • Atlanta police released a new video and surveillance photos from its investigation into the shooting death of an 8-year-old girl. According to WSB-TV, Secoriea Turner was shot while riding in a car with her mother and her mother’s friend Saturday night. The shooting happened not far from the Wendy’s on University Avenue where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed last month. The video shows a Black man in a white shirt carrying what police identified as an AR-15. Lt. Pete Malecki said the man is just one of several persons of interest in the case. “We believe there is going to be a minimum of three additional suspects. That number could change,” he said. “Although we have a lot of work to identify the remaining individuals responsible, this is the first step in that process.” Investigators said Secoriea Turner was riding in a Jeep Cherokee Saturday night when the driver tried to get around a “makeshift roadblock that was manned by numerous armed individuals.” Malecki said they believe the shots were fired intentionally into the car. At a news conference Sunday, Secoriea Turner’s mother said that her daughter died in her arms. “She was only 8 years old,” Charmaine Turner said. “She would have been on Tik Tok dancing on her phone, just got done eating. We understand the frustration of Rayshard Brooks. We didn’t have anything to do with that. We’re innocent. My baby didn’t mean no harm.” Secoriya Williamson, Secoriea Turner’s father, also spoke out. “They say Black lives matter,” Williamson said. “You killed your own this time. You killed a child. She didn’t do nothing to nobody.” Police are offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to Secoriea Turner’s killers. Information can be submitted anonymously to the Crime Stoppers Atlanta tip line at 404-577-TIPS (8477) or online at www.StopCrimeATL.com. Hours following the police news conference, the community came together for a prayer vigil.
  • A 17-month-old girl was killed in a pit bull attack last weekend during a Fourth of July party in Illinois, authorities said. According to The Associated Press and WMAQ-TV, the incident occurred early Sunday in the bedroom of a family friend's Joliet home. The toddler, whose parents were attending a holiday gathering at the residence, was in a playpen when two dogs somehow got free from the basement, Joliet police said. After hearing a noise, the homeowner went into the bedroom to find one of the two dogs – both pit bull mixes – biting the child, the AP reported. Authorities responded to the home shortly before 1:30 a.m. and found the girl unresponsive with multiple bite wounds, the Herald-News reported. Crews rushed her to a nearby hospital, where she later died. The Will County Coroner's Office identified the victim as Marley Wilander, according to the newspaper. The dog is now in the custody of Animal Control, police said.  – The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. was hospitalized briefly after suffering a fall last month at a Maryland country club, a Supreme Court spokesperson confirmed Tuesday night. Roberts, 65, required an overnight stay, The Washington Post reported. Roberts suffered the fall June 21 at the Chevy Chase Club in Maryland and required stitches, the newspaper reported. He was released from an area hospital after staying overnight for observation. “The Chief Justice was treated at a local hospital on June 21 for an injury to his forehead sustained in a fall while walking for exercise near his home,” Kathleen Arberg, public information officer for the Supreme Court, said in a statement. “The injury required sutures, and out of an abundance of caution, he stayed in the hospital overnight and was discharged the next morning. His doctors ruled out a seizure. They believe the fall was likely due to light-headedness caused by dehydration.” Roberts experienced seizures in 1993 and 2007, the Post reported. Roberts has not publicly mentioned the hospitalization.
  • Mary Kay Letourneau, a Washington state teacher convicted of having sex with her 12-year-old student 23 years ago and later marrying him, died of cancer Monday, her attorney said. Attorney David Gehrke said Letourneau was 58. Letourneau was teaching at Shorewood Elementary School in Burien when she raped her sixth-grade student, Vili Fualaau, in June 1996, KIRO-TV reported. Police discovered Letourneau and Fualaau, then 12, in a minivan parked at the Des Moines Marina. Letourneau said the boy was 18. The two were taken to a police station and later released. At that time, Letourneau was a married 34-year-old mother of four. On Feb. 25, 1997, following a tip, police interviewed Fualaau. Letourneau was pulled out of a teacher’s meeting and arrested for statutory rape. In August 1997, in an agreement with prosecutors, Letourneau pleaded guilty to child rape in exchange for a 3-month jail sentence and probation. Judge Linda Lau accepted the deal on condition that Letourneau have no contact with Fualaau. By that time, Letourneau had given birth to a girl fathered by Fualaau. Letourneau and Fualaau were married in Woodinville on May 20, 2005. after she was released from prison. At that time, Letourneau was 43 and Fualaau was 22. Fualaau filed for separation in 2017, and a divorce was finalized last year. The couple had two children together.
  • A Kentucky man, apparently frustrated by losing to his son in an arm-wrestling contest, is in jail after the defeats led to a shooting and an eight-hour standoff with police, authorities said. Curtis Zimmerman, 55, was intoxicated when he challenged his son to an arm-wrestling contest, the Boone County Sheriff’s Office said. After losing several times to his son, the man became “agitated” and got into a fight, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. The man grabbed a gun and fired two shots into the ceiling as his son was going upstairs in the house, Sgt. Philip Ridgell of the Boone County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. After two people left the house safely, Zimmerman refused to come out of the house when asked by deputies, WKYT reported. According to Ridgell, an eight-hour standoff ensued between Zimmerman and deputies and members of the Florence Police Department SWAT team. Finally, around 8:30 a.m., Zimmerman surrendered and was taken into custody around 830 a.m., the Herald-Leader reported. After a hospital evaluation, Zimmerman is expected to be charged with one count of wanton endangerment, a first-degree, Class D felony, the Sheriff’s Office said. Zimmerman’s arrest warrant lists a $5,000 cash bond, according to the Sheriff’s Office.