Kathy Tate has one message for the person who cautioned her about coming to The University of Kansas Hospital Cancer Center for her cancer treatment.
“He told me, ‘They’ll treat you like a number.’ Well, he was right,” she said. “Everyone treated me like a number from the first day – Number One.”
When she tells the story of the comprehensive team who cared for her, her description is peppered with words like “genius,” “miracle worker” and “angel.”
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 TateCancer survivor, helped organize a “Healing through the Arts” exhibit, shown here
Now 18 months past her diagnosis with breast cancer and cancer-free, the administrative lieutenant in the Douglas County, Kan., sheriff’s office said: “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 Tate at her first appointment. “She patted my shoulder and said, ‘Starting today, things are only going to get better.’”
The compassion carried all the way through a first round of chemotherapy to reduce her tumor, a seven hour surgery (a lumpectomy, lymph node removal and radical hysterectomy), a four-day hospital stay, a second round of chemotherapy, radiation treatments and follow-up care.
Tate describes herself as a take-charge person, so she was equally grateful for the “take-no-prisoners warrior approach” her medical team took to her cancer care. Led by medical oncologist Carol Fabian, MD, her team included surgeons Carol Connor, MD, and John Weed, MD, and Andre Mitchell, MD.
Their close collaboration also gave her confidence. “My doctors were always talking with each other and conferring on my case. Everyone knew what everyone else was doing,” Tate remarked. This contrasts with hospitals where specialists perform their parts of the treatment separately and communicate by letters.
As Tate now moves into an activist role as a 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.”