President Rex introduced us to Kate Mathias through a video he showed, telling her story.  February 10, 2014                                                                                                                                                               Kate was diagnosed with a brain tumor in her right frontal lobe. She worried as she went to surgery that she would not make it. In- deed she did and pictures prove her taking a selfie on day 2           post-op. A young author with three books published before this occurred, how could this happen to her? She wrote a book about this experience now out called “Awake but still Dreaming”.

This book is a “model of perspective on life” she explained. She wants to make a difference and be a source of hope and strength for those who are struggling. She met Rex and told him her story about wanting to start a foundation. Rex asked, “what if Dignity Health could help you and do this for you, along with Debi Florence and Mike Kilzer… a foundation for neuro-wellness: Brain hemorrhages and stroke, traumatic brain injuries and brain tumors.

There are exciting opportunities for the future.

Kate was originally misdiagnosed. She suffered daily headaches which never abated. In 2012 she had an MRI and the tumor was misdiagnosed as a stroke. She felt good though with no deficits. 16 months later, still having headaches, she tore her quad tendon and was hospitalized for 4 days. Doctors told her that her symptoms were presenting as Multiple Sclerosis. She questioned that and finally a Doctor correctly diagnosed the tumor. In hindsight, should she has sought a second opinion? Maybe. But she is using her illness as a way to generate awareness for brain tumor symptoms. She is doing well. She still has seizures . And unfortunately, she confided that, after a recent MRI her doctor had informed her she still had some abnormal tissue they have to watch. This means a setback of sorts, but things don’t always happen as you wish for them to. He chooses to continue to fight – for herself, her husband and her three children.

Tatum Boller was diagnosed in 2012 with a similar tumor. Just becoming acquainted with Kate, they shared their stories. Tatum was diagnoses as a result of a seizure while delivering her daughter. She had surgery and radiation. She had more surgery in 2014 to remove more tissue and scar tissue, She now has two kids and, like Kate she has more screening MRI’s in her future. She says its amazing and different how many people have this condition and their attitudes towards it.  

She feels blessed to have met Kate and felt she was an amazing person with such a profound purpose. They both echo the same philosophy about how very important life is and to live it fully on a daily basis, making every single day “worth it”. They also advocate “being kind”. Everyone is going through something you don’t know about.”

Rex closed with explaining how the Foundation approached Dignity Health and they found that these efforts fall within their vision and they are setting up an non-profit incubator with them. They see a vision for helping patients AND their families and set goals for expenses, research, medical expertise, and emotional support that is so badly needed here in the East Valley. We also can catch Kate and Tatum as they participate in Dignity Health’s Fundraiser in October – Dancing for Stroke. Thanks to Rex for bringing them to tell their amazing stories of courage, resilience and acceptance. Truly inspiring.