HomeNewsFeaturesDisplay

Fairchild youth’s wish granted

Caitlin and Renee Butcher pose for a picture Aug. 23, 2016, during their trip to New York City. Caitlin has had an undiagnosed illness since December 2015 and was accepted into the Make A Wish Foundation. Her and her family received a trip to New York City to see Wicked on Broadway, Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Empire State Building and the American Museum of Natural History. (Courtesy photo)

Caitlin and Renee Butcher pose for a picture Aug. 23, 2016, during their trip to New York City. Caitlin has had an undiagnosed illness since December 2015 and was accepted into the Make A Wish Foundation. Her and her family received a trip to New York City to see Wicked on Broadway, Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Empire State Building and the American Museum of Natural History. (Courtesy photo)

Caitlin and Renee Butcher pose for a picture Aug. 18, 2016, at their home. Caitlin was accepted into the Make A Wish Foundation back in April. Caitlin has an autoimmune processing disorder doctors have yet to diagnose. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samantha Krolikowski)

Caitlin and Renee Butcher pose for a picture Aug. 18, 2016, at their home. Caitlin was accepted into the Make A Wish Foundation back in April. Caitlin has an autoimmune processing disorder doctors have yet to diagnose. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samantha Krolikowski)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- On the outside, Caitlin Butcher is just a normal 11-year-old girl with a passion for reading and acting in Christian Youth Theater classes. However, on the inside, Caitlin is battling a condition no doctor or specialist has been able to identify.

In 2015, Caitlin’s parents, Tech. Sgt. James Butcher and Renee Butcher noticed a rash and from there the symptoms kept getting worse.

She has an autoimmune processing disorder, but the doctors haven’t been able to diagnose it.

“Sometimes I look at where she was and where she is now,” Renee said. ”She isn’t able to do the things she once did because she’s tired and not feeling well.”

After several months of seeing the specialist in Seattle, Caitlin was accepted to the Undiagnosed Disease Network at Stanford University, California in April 2016 and will be heading there later this month. She will continue to receive care from the UDN until a solution is found to better help her.

It’s been a stressful time, but the Butcher family has luckily had a support system, both personally and on base. Caitlin’s dad, James who is a 92nd Air Refueling Wing command post senior controller, has had support from his work by helping him with a work schedule that allows him to be at Caitlin’s appointments when able.

“We’ve found strength in our faith and church,” said James. “We also have close friends and family who have helped us through tough times.”

Along with being accepted into the UDN, Caitlin also received another surprise. Since she missed more than 60 days of school and was still undiagnosed, her doctor put her name into the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

“We were very emotional when we found out her doctor put her in for Make-a-Wish ,” Renee said. “Never in our dreams would we have ever expected this. We are very grateful and thankful for this opportunity.”

According to Renee, Caitlin loves anything Broadway or theater. After she was accepted, she and her family went to New York City to see a Broadway musical. During the trip, Caitlin and her family also got to see the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Empire State Building and the American Museum of Natural History.

During the trip, I was able to witness my daughter’s smile for the first time since she became sick, Renee said. The family got to pack their bags for the trip of a lifetime that would become full of fun and memories, and not for a hospital visit.

“It felt wonderful to have a trip centered on her and on the things she wanted to do,” Renee said. “For a week it was nice to focus on our family and her and not her illness.”

My advice to others is don’t give up hope,” Renee said. “It might be a struggle, but don’t get drowned in the whole process. Reach out for hope and use your networking by relying on friends and family. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

“I tell Caitlin to never give up,” James said. “Keep fighting the fight and we’ll get through this together.”