With the passing of CURE co-founder Kathy LaTour, one contributor remembers the advice, friendship and kindness that Kathy passed on to her that helped her to share her own cancer story.
Last month, CURE® Magazine co-founder Kathy LaTour passed away.
I had the honor to meet Kathy at the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) event in Denver in 2017. I had been writing for CURE® for only a year at this time, and it was my first ONS Congress.
Kathy was incredibly sweet, full of wisdom, and introduced me to the events speaker Patrick Dempsey as "the future of cancer care." While the entire experience felt like a whirlwind, Kathy's advice that night has stuck with me, not just as a writer but as I pursue my degree in nursing. She said, "Define cancer, do not let it define you."
This advice came after a brief discussion about my role as a caregiver and my perception prior to sharing my story, that my story was not worth sharing. I have thought about that advice more times than I can count. And as I reflect on Kathy’s work, I realize that she was the epitome of her advice.
Kathy had her own unique relationship with cancer. She chose after her diagnosis with breast cancer that she would not let cancer define who she was. Kathy used her voice to help others in the cancer community find their place. She was an avid writer, and her articles are a glimpse into the funny, intelligent and caring woman who changed so many lives. Through not only her writing but also encouraging others to use our voices and share our stories, she created a platform where those impacted by cancer could find relatability instead of loneliness.
Every year at ONS, I would kneel beside Kathy as she sat at her, well-earned, spotlight seated role right in front of the podium of the CURE Healer Awards. We would catch up for a bit; she would ask about school and share thoughts on an article I had written. How she remembered so much about my life when we only saw each other once a year and spoke via email sporadically, I will never know.
Sadly, like so many other things that COVID-19 has changed, the CURE Healer Awards did not occur in San Antonio this Spring due to the cancellation of ONS. Therefore, the last time I was able to see Kathy was in Anaheim at ONS last year. We talked about potential future speakers, and she told me, "Shame you work for CURE. If you didn't, one day this Healer Award could be yours." It is small comments like that, advice, seeing Kathy each spring and receiving random emails with words of encouragement that I will miss most about Kathy.
However, I know that her loss is far more significant than me. It is an earth-shattering loss to the CURE Family, the contributors who were inspired to use their voices to share their stories and those who read our work. Kathy’s legacy extends to every person she touched, every voice she encouraged to speak up and every reader who related to a shared story. Kathy did not let cancer define her, instead, she chose to not only define cancer for herself but also encouraged countless others like me to the same.
I hope you know just how much you mattered to me and so many others, Kathy. You will be dearly missed. What a remarkable legacy that you have left, by an even more remarkable woman.