I first met Caitlin Jo Burke in 2015 when I was covering the Chicago Bliss women's pro football team. A lifetime athlete in several sports, CJB was as tough as could be on the field and as sweet and fun as could be off the field.
I haven't seen Caitlin since that season, but I have followed her online. Unfortunately, her update last October was a bad one.
Caitlin went in for a hip surgery. Her health issues started shortly after the operation.
After dozens of tests, she was diagnosed with MOGAD. Myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody disease is a neurological, immune-mediated demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system causing inflammation and potential damage to the optic nerve, spinal cord, brain and brainstem. Obviously, it is a very serious condition. While still learning, treating and battling that, CJB was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Caitlin is 32 and as an athlete, was seemingly in great shape. Now, Caitlin fights to regain her life. She is a fighter though and optimistic. She will do everything possible to get through and get better.
Caitlin could use help though. Caitlin has a GoFundMe page. If you're a friend, former teammate or fan, reach out to her. Send her your thoughts, vibes, prayers and good wishes.
I have invited Caitlin to share her story and progress here any time. Of course, she isn't ready to do that yet, but I hope she eventually will because her story can help others, too.
I will provide updates here as things develop. Until then, I wish the best for Caitlin. Stay strong, CJB. You got this!
Caitlin Jo Burke and me in Bridgeview, IL-Spring 2015.