Staying strong, staying fierce ... at 10 years old

Jon Bolduc, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine
·3 min read

Mar. 11—Katarina Sherbinski, 10, of Norway is a spitfire of a little girl. Since being diagnosed with a mango-sized brain tumor in late February, Kat has had to be fierce for reasons no child should have to be. A GoFundMe circulating hopes to lessen the financial burden on her family as it bands together.

The GoFundMe, titled KatStrong: Helping a child through a brain tumor, is aptly named. Since December, when Kat first started having migraines, she has managed to stay strong.

"One of her teachers sent her a message to stay fierce...she's a happy kid, she wants to be outside, and she's going to hold her ground...she's going to need that strength to move forward." said Jennifer Sherbinski, a high school teacher at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

And the Sherbinskis will need strength, emotionally and financially to make it through.

Anne Goodwin, a family friend and teacher in Windham, set up a GoFundMe that has raised $11,530 for Kat as of March 7. According to Goodwin, the hope is to check at least one worry off the Sherbinski's list.

"It would be one last thing for her to have to panic about...how can I pay the bills and take care of my daughter who is really sick," Goodwin said.

According to the Go-Fund Me message, on Feb. 23, Kat went in for a scan which revealed the tumor and several fluid pockets, and five days later she was in surgery to remove as many of those pockets as possible and test if they are cancerous.

As of March 4, they were still waiting on the results of the scan, and, after speaking with insurance, the out of pocket payments turned out to be higher than expected, prompting Goodwin to up the goal of the GoFundMe from $10,000 to $20,000.

And though the financial needs are high, Sherbinski said that the outpouring of community support has been emotional and remarkable. Sherbinski said that even some of her high school students have donated.

"When all of this happens you don't really think about everyone you know...it's just really wonderful that people have been amazing. I've even had students donate to the GoFundMe page. Students don't necessarily have that much money, so they fact that they went ahead and did that...it's so touching that they care about us," said Sherbinski.

Sherbinski also stated she was thankful for the community rallying around their entire family.

"At first I felt kind of strange about asking people for money...it seemed weird to me. But then all these people started donating and it made us feel really touched and honored that so many people cared about our family and cared about Katarina," she said.

And according to Sherbinski, Kat, who felt self-conscious after a section of her head shaved before her surgery, the outpouring support has helped her regain that confidence.

"It's just scary because she doesn't know what is going to happen. To know that we have all of these people that want to help and want to donate...it's just amazing. I didn't realize that our family meant that much to all these people in our community. It's really nice to know what we can focus on her, the next path and trying to get the best possible care," said Sherbinski.