Refusing to let disease define you

Author: Deb McCarthy
Published On: 12/21/17

For the last 25 years, Catherine Richardson has worked for the Defense Contract Management Agency at the Department of Defense. Catherine has also been donating an hour of her salary from every paycheck to the Neurofibromatosis Network through CFC (Combined Federal Campaign).

Catherine is truly a champion of her own cause. Throughout her life, she has not allowed NF to define her or make who she is today. As a child, Catherine was in a regular Girl Scouts troop (not a special needs troop.) Just one week before her 16th birthday, her left arm was amputated. After surgery, Catherine’s life was basically normal as she had chores to do just like her siblings.

Over time, a tumor formed where her arm was and it was eventually removed. Her life remained about the same after the second surgery, but she now has trouble breathing because her head is closer against her chest. Oxygen helps some and it’s better with it then without it. She does have another internal tumor where surgery is not an option for fear of paralysis from the neck down.

In 2011, Catherine was recognized by the DoD as Disabled Employee of the Year — Worldwide for the DCMA. Each agency selects one individual who can only win once every 10 years. Catherine is right on track to be recognized again as she is never absent because she stays busy at work. Understandably so, for when her citation was read at the awards ceremony, it stated that she worked on two indefinite quantity contracts that had a combined value of over $10 billion.

When Catherine was asked why she did not let neurofibromatosis define her, her response was, “I have good days and bad days. I just take it one day at a time. I used to bowl in a league regularly. I also do karaoke on Saturdays from time to time with friends. There are people out there in worst situations than mine — doesn’t do any good to feel sorry for yourself.”

The mission of the CFC is to promote and support philanthropy through a program that is employee focused, cost-efficient, and effective in providing all federal employees the opportunity to improve the quality of life for all.

If you, your friends, or family work for the federal government, the military, or the postal service, please consider contributing to the NF Network through the Combined Federal Campaign using CFC Code #10227.

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