October 02, 2019
Kathy Tate has one message for the person who cautioned her about coming to The University of Kansas Cancer Center for her breast cancer treatment.
“He told me, ‘They’ll treat you like a number.’ Well, he was right,” she says. “Everyone treated me like a number from the 1st day – No. 1!”
When she tells the story of the comprehensive team that cared for her, her description is peppered with words like “genius,” “miracle worker” and “angel.”
Now cancer-free, the administrative lieutenant in the Douglas County, Kansas, sheriff’s office shares: “I’m so grateful to the people at the cancer center for giving my life back to me.”
It started with the kindness and understanding of the staff member who registered Kathy at her first appointment. “She patted my shoulder and said, ‘Starting today, things are only going to get better.’”
People said, 'When all this is over, you'll see cancer as your greatest blessing.' And I do. I realize now I can do amazing things with this gift of a second chance. –Kathy TateBreast cancer survivor
The compassion carried all the way through her first round of chemotherapy to reduce her tumor, a 7-hour surgery (a lumpectomy, lymph node removal and radical hysterectomy), a 4-day hospital stay, a second round of chemotherapy, radiation treatments and follow-up care.
Kathy describes herself as a take-charge person, so she was especially grateful for the “take-no-prisoners warrior approach” her medical team, led by breast medical oncologist Carol Fabian, MD, applied to her cancer care.
Their close collaboration also gave Kathy confidence. “My doctors were always talking with each other and conferring on my case. Everyone knew what everyone else was doing,” she says. This contrasts with hospitals where specialists perform their part of the treatment separately and communicate by letters.
As Kathy now moves into an activist role as a breast cancer survivor, she has another message for everyone she meets: “I want people to know that Dr. Fabian has the ability and dedication to lead us to eradicating breast cancer. I believe she and her very talented team of researchers are capable of solving the puzzle and leading us to a day when no one needs to fear this disease.”