I’ve always loved Kathi Goertzen and am deeply saddened to hear that today she has lost her battle against brain tumors, after years of struggle.
Growing up, the 5 o’clock news with Kathi was a standard in my family – we’d have it on in the background every night while eating dinner. Kathi was a huge role model for me – she is the female news anchor I grew up watching and is a big reason I chose a career in journalism.
But, it was really more than her poise on television – Kathi was an outstanding reporter with a compassionate heart. After her diagnosis with brain tumors, she fought with grace and courage – then turned to her work to help others struggling with cancer.
I admired her Health Link updates and interviews – how well she related to those she spotlighted and worked hard to report the latest advances in cancer and health research. When she became too ill to work, she still updated her friends and fans with a Facebook page where she bravely documented her illness. Her last post earlier this month was full of hope, as she tried a new chemotherapy drug and posted a picture of herself hooked to an IV.
When my friend and KOMO reporter Rose Egge was diagnosed with cancer last year, she too drew inspiration from Kathi’s fight and shared her treatment story with Stronger Than I Think I Am, a blog series hosted by KOMO that followed her treatment and perspective as a 25-year-old cancer survivor.
I wonder now if Rose’s story would have been publicized the way it has, had it not been for the work Kathi did over the last few years highlighting her personal struggle while documenting the progression of others. I think Rose said it best today in a post on her KOMO blog:
"Thank you Kathi, for giving me courage when I needed it the most and showing me that there is no shame in illness. You are my hero, and a hero to everyone lucky to have known you."
I also think of the countless other cancer survivors touched by Kathi’s story – those who benefitted from her coverage of their fundraisers, read her research on the latest medical treatment and found inspiration through those whom she gave a voice.
Kathi, thank you. As a woman, I respect your courage to break the newsroom glass ceiling and rise to the top of your field. As a human being, I respect your dignity, compassion and willingness to share your story with others. You are deeply missed and will forever be a beacon of hope in the Pacific Northwest.