Lifestyles

Federal Way woman with terminal cancer: 'I feel good' | Charity concert helps family

Julie Kathan, 53, was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiform, a fast-spreading and terminal cancer. The doctor gave her less than a year to live. She is pictured with her husband, Jeff Kathan, and mother, Ruby Forehand, who is visiting from Georgia. - Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror
Julie Kathan, 53, was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiform, a fast-spreading and terminal cancer. The doctor gave her less than a year to live. She is pictured with her husband, Jeff Kathan, and mother, Ruby Forehand, who is visiting from Georgia.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror

Julie Kathan has terminal brain cancer, and she feels no pain.

"Not even a headache," she said. "I don't know how much longer I have left, but I feel good."

Last September, the Federal Way woman suddenly had trouble talking, and her mental capacity seemed blurry. Kathan, 53, was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a fast-spreading and terminal cancer.

The doctor gave her eight to 12 months to live.

Radiation treatment shrank the tumor by 2 inches, but it started growing again. A new treatment diminishes the flow of blood to the aggressive tumor.

Seven months later, Jeff and Julie Kathan try to control the cancer, keeping it at bay as long as possible. Physically, she remains pain-free. Although she has lost weight, her appetite is strong.

"I do have a bit of a short-term memory problem," she said. "Other than that, I don't feel really any different than I did."

In the meantime, the Kathans haven't stopped living. The couple celebrated their 24th anniversary in February with a trip to Maui. On Saturday, they will see daughter Dayna, 21, graduate from Washington State University. They have another daughter, Brittni, 23, and Julie helped raise Jeff's oldest daughter, Brandee, 29.

The Kathans have lived in Federal Way for 21 years. Since the diagnosis, Julie tries to keep a positive attitude and live for today.

"Family and friends are important to me," she said. "Money and things, they can all go away."

However, the Kathan family accepts the reality of mounting medical bills.

A charity concert featuring a local music lineup — plus a live and silent auction — was held April 29 at the Temple Theatre in Tacoma. The show raised thousands of dollars to support the family's house payments and costs related to Julie's cancer treatment.

Nearly 900 attended the volunteer-driven event. Jeff Kathan's connections as a professional drummer came in handy for auction items like autographed guitars from Bad Company and Heart. Sir Mix-A-Lot, known for his hit "Baby Got Back," performed along with the Pamela Moore Band featuring Randy Piper, Outtasite, Rail, Brigade, Roni Lee and an All-Star Jam.

At the event, hundreds of people met the Kathans for the first time. Days later, they were still glowing from the outpouring of love.

"Thank you so much to everybody who was a part of it," Jeff Kathan said. "It's lifted us, our whole spirit, so high."

Learn more

To learn more about the Kathan family, visit www.juliekathan.org.

 

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