“Anyone who met my mother was touched by her spirit. She challenged people to be curious, to seek more, to learn more and to challenge themselves,” LaTour’s daughter, Kirtley Perkins, wrote on Facebook.
Kathy LaTour received a breast cancer diagnosis in 1986 at the age of 37 and used her experiences to make a difference in the cancer community — and that started with writing. In a recent blog, she said, “Writing is a release. We take what is stuck in the corners of our minds and put them on paper to be read and reread, watching as they lose their power over us.”
In 1994, she published The Breast Cancer Companion: From Diagnosis Through Treatment to Recovery: Everything You Need to Know for Every Step Along the Way. In 2002, she was one of the founding members of CURE Magazine, which grew to be the largest consumer magazine in the United States for patients, survivors and caregivers to those with cancer. She served as the editor-at-large from the brand’s inception until October 2014 and more recently had been a regular columnist for CURE.
Not only did LaTour have a knack for the written word, but many knew her as an inspiring speaker, as well. In 2004, she took her one-woman act, “One Mutant Cell,” to dozens of audiences across the nation. She also served as a speaker at, and emcee of, CURE®’s annual Extraordinary Healer Award dinner for 12 years. There and as emcee at many of CURE®’s heroes programs, she commanded the audience’s attention, inspiring both laughter and tears.
Her accomplishments did not stop there. Armed with a master’s degree in communication from Southern Methodist University (SMU), LaTour returned to her alma mater as an adjunct professor in communications until 2016, touching the lives of countless students over the course of more than two decades. To honor the impact she had on SMU, friends and family started the Kathy LaTour Scholarship fund.
Within the cancer community, LaTour had served on the board of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and collaborated to found two groups in her region that helped people with cancer: Gilda’s Club, North Texas and The Bridge Breast Network in Dallas.
After her death, she was described by a friend on Facebook as “a force of nature” who was “driven to serve,” and many remembered her wisdom and ability to provide guidance. LaTour was “built for big and boisterous living … always with a twinkle in her eye and power in her presence,” another friend wrote.
Debu Tripathy, CURE’s editor-in-chief, recalled LaTour's dry humor and big heart and said he deeply appreciates how much he learned from her about the patient perspective. “Kathy was always in command — she reminded us of both the frailties as well as the strength and resolve of cancer survivors in very special ways through storytelling and memorable one-liners.”
LaTour’s daughter, Kirtley Perkins, also shared some words about her mother. “Anyone who met my mother was touched by her spirit," Perkins wrote on Facebook. "She challenged people to be curious, to seek more, to learn more and to challenge themselves.".
Even after her tenure as editor-at-large, LaTour continued writing for CURE as a Community Voices blogger. Here, she did not shy away from difficult-to-discuss topics, such as long-term effects of cancer treatment, fear of recurrence and parenting after a breast cancer diagnosis. But she always seemed to find the light or the silver lining in any situation. In her most recent blog — published June 1, 2020 — she discussed chemotherapy-related hair loss and ended with some words of advice to readers: “Good luck, and if you can’t keep your hair, just remember it puts a bad hair day in perspective.”
Kathy's family and friends have set up a page to share their memories of Kathy here.