Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Health

Cancer survivor excited to run Miles for Moffitt

Kathee Johnson has been losing weight and working out. She feels good. She likes what she sees in the mirror.

But what is reflected is not just thinner thighs or more pronounced cheekbones.

"Finally, I'm looking in the mirror and seeing myself,'' she told me. "I haven't seen me for a long time.''

Kathee, a 43-year-old wife, homeschooling mother of five and public school tutor, hasn't just been waging the weight war.

Back in 2007, the Dade City woman learned that her constellation of annoying symptoms added up to a tough diagnosis: Hodgkin's lymphoma. This is a cancer of the lymphatic system, an essential part of the immune system.

Her physicians at Moffitt Cancer Center assured her that treatment usually is successful. But in her case, it wouldn't be quick. The cancer came back the year after her first course of treatment and would require more chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant to knock it out.

Steroids added 50 pounds and altered her appearance so dramatically that when she went to Zephyrhills Alliance Church for a prayer service, longtime friends ''didn't even know me, I was so swollen,'' she told me.

The worst part was the bone-crushing weakness and fatigue. She could barely haul herself up off the couch for many months.

Slowly, her strength started coming back, and the steroid bloat started disappearing. She has been cancer-free for four years, but it was within the past year that she has felt more like herself, and better able to get back in shape. The day after Christmas she joined Weight Watchers and has dropped 22 pounds.

But perhaps the biggest change began when her younger daughter suggested teaming up at the Dirty Girl 5K, a mud run in early February in Dade City.

"Are you kidding?'' Kathee told her. "I can't do that!''

But she did watch her daughter compete. "I was tearing up. I thought, 'I want to be part of that.' It was like an aching inside of me,'' she said.

Then Kathee's mother called to ask Kathee to join her for the Gasparilla 5K later in February. They walked it, although Kathee couldn't resist sprinting across the finish line.

"I was so excited to be part of it,'' she said. "It felt like another step away from cancer.''

At Gasparilla, she met organizers from Miles for Moffitt, the fundraiser for cancer research that will be held May 11.

Signing up was an easy decision for Kathee, who raves about the care she received at Moffitt. With her friend Vicki Russell, Kathee got serious about training, working with coach Lynn Gray of Take the First Step in Tampa to improve her technique. She's been walking less and running more as the weeks go by.

"I'm surprised at how fast running has changed things, and how it has improved my inner strength,'' she told me.

"I've always had strong faith in Christ, but the mental strength is what I had lost. I'm gaining that back.''

Next weekend, Kathee will lead her own team — Kathee's Krew for the Cure. Her husband, Don, and the kids, ages 10 to 19, will all be there. So will her mom, dad, sister and Vicki.

During her cancer treatment and long, difficult recovery, Kathee held one Bible verse particularly close, the beginning of Isaiah 40:31.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.

Now that she is an athlete, Kathee finds meaning in the entire verse, which concludes:

They shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Comments
Be prepared to help save a life: Learn CPR

Be prepared to help save a life: Learn CPR

70 percent of cardiac arrests outside hospitals happen at home. American Heart Association 3 a.m. Jan. 4, 2016. Lisa Peters of St. Petersburg is awakened by her husband, Rick, making strange gasping sounds. She can’t wake him. He feels cold. Only 46...
Published: 02/16/18

Step by step, ramp up your daily activity

Jae Bermanhe Washington Post There are many reasons that people avoid exercise. Time is an obvious one. Our lives are already busy — who has time to work out? Money is another common excuse. Gym memberships and equipment can get pricey.People often w...
Published: 02/16/18
Put Alaskan king crab leg shells to work in a creamy, dreamy bisque

Put Alaskan king crab leg shells to work in a creamy, dreamy bisque

Nothing says indulgence like noshing on some seriously giant Alaskan king crab legs. They’re not just tasty, they’re a low-fat source of protein: One leg has about 25 grams of protein and a host of vitamins and minerals (including sodium, incidentall...
Published: 02/15/18
Avocado toast gets a persimmon twist

Avocado toast gets a persimmon twist

You’ve likely seen persimmon in the grocery store and then shied away from it, not quite sure what to do with it. The most common variety in the United States is the fuyu persimmon, also called Japanese persimmon, and it looks similar to a slightly f...
Published: 02/15/18
News co-anchor Dan Harris delves into meditation, and why being distracted is ‘a victory’

News co-anchor Dan Harris delves into meditation, and why being distracted is ‘a victory’

Emma Seppalahe Washington PostDan Harris is co-anchor of ABC’s Nightline and the weekend editions of Good Morning America. His first book, 10% Happier, was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller. He later launched the 10% Happier podcast and an app called...
Published: 02/15/18

Mayo Clinic Q&A: exercise stress tests; breast self-awareness versus self-exams

DON’T SWEAT THE EXERCISE STRESS TESTI have a treadmill stress test scheduled to look for heart disease. I know this involves exercising, and I’m worried that I’m not physically up to it. Is there another way to gather this information?Yes. There’s an...
Published: 02/15/18
Gay doctor takes a drug to prevent HIV. Then he couldn’t get disability insurance

Gay doctor takes a drug to prevent HIV. Then he couldn’t get disability insurance

Three years ago, Dr. Philip J. Cheng, a urology resident at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, nicked himself while preparing an HIV-positive patient for surgery.Following hospital protocol, he took a one-month course of Truvada, a cocktail of t...
Published: 02/15/18
Doctor removes worm from Tampa man’s eye. ‘Luckily we caught it just in time’

Doctor removes worm from Tampa man’s eye. ‘Luckily we caught it just in time’

TAMPA — Nothing seemed wrong or out of place when it was time for Sam Cordero to make an appointment for a routine eye exam.The 57-year-old man from Tampa occasionally saw a few bright or foggy spots in his left eye, but thought it was just "floaters...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/15/18
A couple calls to ask, ‘Hey, can we donate our kidneys?’ The stranger who got one is in awe

A couple calls to ask, ‘Hey, can we donate our kidneys?’ The stranger who got one is in awe

LARGO — Keshava Persaud entered the room inside Largo Medical Center, his wife at his side. His eyes went right to the couple across the room. They looked so young, he thought. Tears welled as he handed the woman, April Scott, 49, potted white silk f...
Published: 02/14/18
Bayfront Health system gets new leader

Bayfront Health system gets new leader

Bayfront Health has hired a new executive position to oversee the six regional hospitals it operates along the Gulf Coast of Florida. Joseph Mullany has been appointed regional president and chief executive officer of Bayfront Health, and will overse...
Published: 02/13/18