Kristen Degner, a River Plantation resident, and daughter of a retired Montgomery County Deputy and CISD teacher was given a huge 40th-birthday parade Saturday morning. Kristen was born as a normal child and grew up and developed like most children. Her challenges began when she received her second DPT vaccination. The DPT injection lot was tainted and she, along with thousands of other children, was affected by this. It was not until she was 18-months old when a problem was noticed by the family. She started running a fever and her eyes rolled up in her head. This was the first of many. Multiple seizures, as well as all the medications the doctors tried, caused her to become mentally disabled. She went to the Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas for a specialized treatment program to control her seizures. It was there that doctors said with all that is happening to her, she probably would not live past twelve or thirteen years of age. Although the prognosis was dim, the doctors didn’t give up on her. While she was there, she received a Vagal Nerve Stimulator, which is like a pacemaker for seizures. That cut her seizure activity in half and allowed her to reduce or stop taking numerous seizure medications, resulting in Kristen being more alert and active. She continued receiving treatment from them until she became an adult at 18. Kristen has surprised everyone with her fighting spirit. She soaked up all the love and support from family, friends, and church members and has proven the doctor’s initial prognosis was not quite correct. She is still here!!
Unfortunately, Kristen’s challenges don’t stop there. Right now she is fighting her 3rd round of cancer. The first was colon cancer. THe cancer spread to her liver and she had the right lobe of her liver removed. She did not want to eat and had lost a lot of weight, so she had to be put on a feeding tube, which is working well. Recently another cancer spot was found on her liver. It was only 3centimeters, so doctors were able to contain it with microwave ablation treatment. So far the cancer has not returned or spread. Saturday, despite all odds, Kristen turned 40.
Kristen’s parents, Steve and Pam Degner are kind-hearted, dedicated, generous, hardworking people who have devoted themselves to Kristen’s care. THeir career history reflects the kind of decisions they’ve made, always keeping Kristen first. Her father Steve Degner retired from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office after giving the citizens of Montgomery County 35-years of police protection. He still has not stopped giving to the citizens of Montgomery County. He still is, for the past 32-years, he has been a volunteer with the Montgomery County Search and Rescue Group and serving as his fourth term as the president of the organization. He is called out many times in the middle of the night with his volunteers to find a lost person in the Sam Houston National Forest. Being an EMT has also not just helped Kristen but as an adjunct instructor for the Montgomery County Hospital District. While with the Sheriff’s Office he worked nights most of those years so he could take care of Kristen during the day while his wife Pam was at work. Pam Degener retired after 28-years with the Conroe Independent School District where she was a sign interpreter for deaf students. Her love for children extended beyond the classroom to extracurricular activities and personal relationships that continue to this date. The best thing about her working for the school district was she was off the same days as Kristen. Word spread quick or Kristen’s up and coming 40th birthday. First Responders, Montgomery County Hospital District Medics, Caney Creek Firefighters, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputies, and Precinct 2 Constables along with members of the Montgomery County Search and Rescue Group and friends formed a large parade through River Plantation on Saturday. Montgomery County Precinct 2 Constable Gene DeForest, who accompanied several of his deputies stopped and presented Kristen with a challenge coin for her birthday. Kristen was amazed at all the lights and sirens and the horses with Montgomery County Search and Rescue. Right after the parade, however, was her favorite. Putting her floaty on and spending the afternoon in the swimming pool.

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