25 Stories of Inspiration -- Kate Schmidt|
“Life is a gift…I do the things I love to do.”
© Bill Aron
Kate Schmidt is the
greatest American woman javelin thrower in history.
She was given the nickname of “Kate the Great” and claimed two bronze
medals at the Olympics and still holds the American record for that event.
In August 1993, Kate
had been feeling achy and a general sense of malaise, but did not think anything
was seriously wrong. She
went on a camping trip with a friend and her beloved dog, Bubba.
While sitting by the campfire, Bubba jumped on her lap and began pawing
her stomach incessantly. Kate was
not only intrigued by Bubba’s persistence in this activity, but was in pain.
The area became very tender and the next day she went to the hospital.
It turned out that Kate had a burst tumor, and Bubba had sensed
something. The pain she was experiencing was pelvic peritonitis.
She was immediately referred to oncologist, Richard Nalick, M.D., who
happened to be a javelin thrower when he attended UCLA.
Kate was diagnosed with Stage 1-C aggressive ovarian cancer and underwent
a complete hysterectomy. Kate was in the hospital for twenty-two days, and in the last
week of her stay, she began chemotherapy.
wonderful friends and family who supported her throughout this process.
She recalls being at home in bed recovering when someone from The
Wellness Community visited her. To
this day she does not remember who the person was, but the one thing she does
remember is that the person sitting on the end of her bed, said, “We are all
terminal.” That quote encouraged
her to seek additional support. It
helped her to see that everyone has to face their mortality at some point, and
we cannot pick or choose the when or where.
As Kate says: “If this is what I’ve been given, I might as well lean
into it, learn from it, remain present and conscious for it, whether it’s a
step along the way, or my way out.” It
relieved her of any possibility of the “why me?” and started her thinking
“why not me?” Kate put one foot
in front of the other and decided to head down the path of awareness and
knowledge. She was told that The
Wellness Community was the place to meet those needs and so she visited the
Foothills branch in Pasadena.
It turned out to be
the right place to be. The people
Kate met in her TWC group were feeling the same emotions and could relate to
what she was going through. They
all connected with each other and laughed at the most awful things.
One such quote she recalls from a fellow cancer patient was, “I just
realized I don’t have to save for retirement!”
Nothing like a little dark humor to clear the air!
She thanks TWC for this time of her life, for taking care of her and her
fellow cancer patients, and for giving them the ability to laugh at their
Kate was a coach at Beverly Hills High School for six years and currently is a coach at Occidental College. She runs her own personal training/rehabilitation business. She also teaches strength training at TWC-WLA and is amazed that every week cancer patients push through their nausea and pain to strengthen their bodies to combat their illness. She has returned to TWC-WLA to help others in their pursuit of awareness and knowledge. How wonderful that she is back, fourteen years later as a cancer survivor, teaching and inspiring others to access and build their strength for the fight for recovery.