INSPIRING GO-GETTER: Adversity can’t slow down teen cancer survivor

 INSPIRING GO-GETTER: Adversity can’t slow down teen cancer survivor

Tennis is just one of Cate Evans many hobbies.

Whether it’s gliding across the ice for a game of sled hockey or not missing a beat while playing the clarinet in her high school’s marching band, 18-year-old Cate Evans, of White Lake, has never let anything stop her: not her cancer diagnosis, not her spinal cord injury from her tumor, not her use of a wheelchair.

The next goal on this go-getter’s docket: pursuing supply chain management with a concentration in health care at the University of Michigan-Flint, one that was inspired by her own personal cancer journey.

The journey

When Cate was just three months old, her grandmother noticed a hump on her back. Testing revealed a mass in Cate’s chest that was pushing on her ribs and spinal cord. Soon after, Cate was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that develops in the nerve tissue.

Cate Evans played the clarinet in the Walled Lake Northern marching band
Cate Evans played the clarinet in the Walled Lake Northern marching band

“The idea that our baby had cancer was inconceivable and terrifying,” Caryn Evans, Cate’s mother, said. “It brought a whirlwind of fear mixed with hope.”

That same hope, combined with eight rounds of chemotherapy at Beaumont Children’s housed inside Corewell Health’s Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, helped Cate reach remission five months later.

The Evanses credit their hopeful outlook to Dr. Charles Main, Cate’s doctor and the former chief of Pediatric Oncology and Hematology at Beaumont Children’s.

“Dr. Main was the doctor who delivered the devastating news to us,” Caryn said.

“We liked him and trusted him instantly. He had a calm, kind demeanor as he laid out his plan for treatment and patiently answered every question we asked.”

The support

Fast forward to today: the cancer is gone, but Dr. Main continues to be a part of Cate’s life.

Cate learning to walk as a toddler
Cate learning to walk as a toddler

He recently attended a party to celebrate Cate’s graduation from Walled Lake Northern High School, where she graduated with highest honors, a 4.25 GPA, three varsity letters and numerous awards.

“After you’re done with chemo, he doesn’t just leave you,” Cate said. “I think it just goes back to what an incredible human and doctor Dr. Main is.

“Whether it’s checking up on you at the Pediatric Long-Term Follow-up Clinic or celebrating life’s milestones, he’s always there to support you through your journey.”

The scholarship

Another way Cate feels supported: she is one of the 240 survivors of childhood cancer or sickle cell disease to receive the Charles A. Main Pediatric Cancer Survivor Scholarship, a scholarship intended to help young people like Cate by encouraging them to look to the future and continue their education.

“To me, Cate is one of 240 miracles,” Dr. Main said. “When I first started, the survival rate for childhood cancer was about five percent and now it’s close to 90 percent. These kids are special, and they are going through the college of hard knocks right now during treatment.

“The one thing cancer can’t take away from them is their ability to dream. Through the scholarship program, we hope to inspire them to continue to dream and move forward by furthering their education.”

Over the past 32 years, almost 1,000 individual grants have been awarded, and this spring eight new recipients were announced.

Three childhood cancer survivor scholarship recipients are currently enrolled in medical school and others are pursuing undergraduate degrees in nursing, dietetics, social work and physical therapy.

“Obviously, college is a huge cost for any family, but when you have a child with cancer, that’s a huge, additional expense and toll,” Cate said. “Like, for me, with my spinal cord injury, it involves additional expenses that I will have for the rest of my life. So, the fact that Dr. Main started a scholarship to help people like me with the financial burden of college means a lot.”

Caryn added, “The award of the Charles A. Main scholarship was a wonderful surprise and will help Cate achieve her college goals. Dr. Main is a great doctor and even greater human being. He touched our lives 18 years ago and has continued to be a positive force for our family. We can’t thank him enough.”

The dream

Cate recently began classes at the University of Michigan-Flint. Her reasoning behind pursuing supply chain management with a concentration in health care is simple: she doesn’t have the stomach to be a doctor or a nurse, but she has the drive and passion to help people in some way by working in health care.

Cate Evans is pictured with her parents and siblings
Cate Evans is pictured with her parents and siblings

“Because of my situation, I really want to give back, and I feel like supply chain is a great way to do that,” Cate said.

“I think we all saw the challenges that the health care world faced during COVID with the supply chain issues and shortage of PPE, and it’s something that I’ve experienced personally with a shortage of medications I take for my spinal cord injury. I want to do my part in ensuring everyone gets quality access to care.”

Dr. Main said, “I’m always pleased to hear one of my former patients is going into the health care field. Health care needs people like Cate.”

Thanks to Corewell Health Communications Professional Amanda Klingbail for contributing this amazing article to

Ed Wright

Related post