Written by Katie’s husband Ryan Tinnea
My wife Katie was diagnosed with inoperable stage IV colon cancer at the age of 28. She was a teacher, a daughter, a wife, and a mother of an (at the time) 11-month-old little girl. Despite her prognosis, she fought her disease with courage, integrity, resilience, and a whole lot of charm! Unfortunately after 20 months of battling her cancer, she passed away this last April. Her vibrance and spirit will always be cherished among her friends, family, and her entire “Purple Power” crew. Katie’s aunt also passed away from colon cancer.
I think Katie would credit a number of things that helped her in her fight. Certainly the tremendous support she received from the community, her friends, and her family was paramount. I’m sure her positive attitude and sheer stubbornness contributed as well. However, I think her primary inspiration for fighting was to be there as long as possible for our daughter Kennedy. Kennedy was the reason she got up every morning and the reason she dragged herself to chemo each week. Katie received her treatment at Swedish Hospital.
In her own words, “My diagnosis came as a complete shock to everyone. I was a young, vibrant woman busily teaching first grade and chasing after an almost one-year old. I was in great health, ate a very healthy diet, and exercised regularly. While on the outside I may have appeared healthy, cancer was destroying my insides. That’s when I decided that I was not going to let cancer walk all over me. I decided to take a positive approach and show cancer and chemotherapy who was in charge…me.”
I think if there’s an underlying lesson to Katie’s story it’s that anyone can contract this disease. It doesn’t matter if you’re young and healthy. If you’re active and eat right, you are still at risk. So get screened if you have ANY inclinations!