Catherine Steen - Board Member
A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Catherine earned a degree in Mass Communications and furthered her education by studying Advertising and Marketing in London, England. Catherine’s professional career began in San Francisco where she worked in Public Relations for Magnet Communications. After planning events for her PR clients, Catherine soon realized that she wanted event planning to be her career focus. Catherine joined Signature Hospitality Group as an Event & Program Manager and was later promoted to Senior Operations Manager. Following her time in San Francisco, Catherine relocated to Marina Del Rey and worked for Nike Inc. in Event Planning and Brand Design. During her time with Nike, Catherine had the opportunity to manage the branding for events across all sport categories, including running, where she managed the branding for the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco as well as the Cinco De Mile and Run Hit ReMix races in Los Angeles. Catherine later relocated back to San Francisco where she had the opportunity to work as a Producer for Factor Design and managed the company’s account with Apple. In 2009, Catherine and her husband found themselves moving again, this time to Arizona, which provided her with the opportunity to further her career in events while working for The Ritz-Carlton. Catherine and her family attend The OC Walk to Remember for the first time in 2012. She was so inspired by the event that she knew she had to be a part of the organization. She also served on the Board of Directors for The OC Walk to Remember in 2013. In her free time, Catherine enjoys cooking, running, writing and spending time with family and friends. Catherine’s Story In March of 2011, my husband Luke and I were overjoyed to learn that we were expecting a baby. A miscarriage in August of 2010 had left us heartbroken and we were thrilled to have another opportunity to expand our family. At 19 weeks we found out we were having a little girl and named her Ella Sofia Steen. The world was beautiful again and we felt like all of our prayers had been answered. The following week we had our second trimester ultrasound and we were informed that our precious daughter had a lung abnormality called a Congenital Cystic Adenomatoid Malformation (CCAM). Devastated, we rushed home and researched everything we could about the condition and were comforted to find that it often resolves itself before birth and that that there were treatment options available should her condition worsen. It was only in very rare and severe instances that the condition was fatal. The doctors told us we would need to come in for weekly appointments to monitor the growth of the CCAM and encouraged us not to panic. However, at our very next appointment, we received the horrible news that the CCAM had grown so dramatically that the legion was pushing our precious Ella’s heart to the side and interfering with its ability to function normally. The news of Ella’s condition left us paralyzed and the absolute lack of empathy, advice, and flat out rude remarks from the doctor delivering the news, left us furious. Thankfully, I contacted the Fetal Treatment Center at the University of California, San Francisco as soon as we learned of Ella’s condition. They are the leading experts in this condition and their team is incredible. When I called them again to provide them with the news that the CCAM had grown, they advised me to come up to see them as soon as possible. I flew to San Francisco the next day and they confirmed our worst fear, Ella was in fact very sick. That same day, Ella and I underwent a fetal surgery to implant a shunt that would drain the cyst. The procedure had fabulous results. So good in fact, that after staying in San Francisco for 5 weeks of observation and continued regression of the CCAM, they told me to go back to Arizona and that I could expect a normal delivery. I did, and a week later, at a follow-up appointment in Arizona, I received the news that the shunt had fallen out and the growth was once again expanding in her chest. I immediately returned to San Francisco where I stayed for another month and Ella and I underwent another fetal surgery to implant a 2nd shunt. This time the procedure left her stable, but we did not see regression of the CCAM as we had previously. At 30 weeks, I was still in San Francisco when I began to go into labor. It was the exact situation we had hoped to avoid – we needed Ella’s lungs to be as strong as possible prior to being born and we knew that a premature baby with her condition would have a very difficult time. My husband Luke was in Arizona and rushed to be at my side. Our beautiful baby girl, Ella Sofia Steen, was born at 12:12am on September 10th, 2011. She was with us for four beautiful days and showed us more strength, grace and love than we have ever known. On the fourth day we had to make an impossible decision. We were faced with the information that she was not going to survive and we did not want her to suffer, she had been so strong already. We transferred her to comfort care and as she lay in my lap we told her over and over how much we loved her. We had no idea how to process that this time with her would be our last. No idea how to fit a lifetime of love into a few hours. Our time with her can only be described as the most beautiful and sad time of our lives. She died in my arms that evening. The first time I got to hold her to me, free of all the wires and tubes, was the last. There are no words to describe this pain. I will never forget watching as the door to the NICU closed, and seeing Ella disappear behind it. No parent should ever have to cope with the realization that they will never see or hold their child again. The final walk from the hospital without her was the single loneliest moment of our lives. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet Ella, to hold her hand, to look into her eyes, and to tell her how much we love her. We are also so grateful for the amazing staff at UCSF – their kindness and empathy comforted us through the impossible. Our lives will be forever impacted by Ella’s presence and her loss. We love her dearly and she will always be a part of our family. We take solace in knowing that she is in Heaven filled with joy, free of pain and knowing that her Momma, Papa and Baby Sister love her dearly. I can only hope that my involvement with The OC Walk to Remember will make her proud.