Kate Hendricks Thomas

First post: Apr 17, 2018 Latest post: Jan 18, 2019
FROM MINDY:  THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE!  PLEASE NOTE:  Donations on the CaringBridge site will go directly to CaringBridge (and not to Kate). To donate to Kate's campaign, please see the link  to her GoFundMe Campaign in "Ways to Help".   I have also linked it below.
 I will start by saying that we began this site because there's no way Kate would ever do it herself.    

Kate Hendricks Thomas is one of the most accomplished amalgams of amazingness I've ever encountered.   Author.  Marine Veteran.  Yoga instructor.   An open-minded, forward thinking wellness and veterans' advocate, and a university professor.  She is a mother of 3-year-old Matthew. She is the wife of Shane.

And before she was any of those things, she has always been my dear and empathetic friend.  

She is, by anyone's account, a successful woman who has created a full and glorious life.  

The path was far from easy, and Kate has always struggled with what every mother contends with: the impossible balance between time, resources, and energy.   Kate and I have had so many conversations over the years about how to prioritize and whether "having it all" was a myth worth consummating.  We'd read Sheryl Sandberg and comment on our thoughts of motherhood and "leaning in";  we'd discuss philosophies and books on parenting and leadership styles, and relate at the end of every conversation how we both want to just slow down and be more present with our children. 

"Why can't we do that?", we'd ask, a question which served as a definitive ending to our chat and an abstract beginning to thoughts she and I would take into the rest of our day.

And as we pondered this question, year after year, phone call after email after text, Kate's choice to speed up or slow down was insidiously decomposing within her body.    There would be a slow-down, and it would not be at 88 years old in a beachfront town.   

Out of the blue at a doctor's appointment in January 2018, it was suggested that she get a mammogram.  Kate is still in her 30s, but this recommendation was given because her life had included some environmental risk factors; factors not based on her own choices, but inherent in where she had lived when she was young, and where she had deployed while helping others. 

And so Kate did get checked out.   Surprise, treacherous surprise.  

Cancer.  Stage IV.  In her breasts, and her bones.   Her timeline would now be determined by so many indeterminate and equivocal factors.   

Kate can deftly turn words into emotions everyone can understand, and she succeeded brilliantly, as always, in this letter below to her husband:

"When the oncologist called and told me they wanted to share the scan results in person, you knew better than to listen to me when I said I could do the appointment solo. I had argued with my doctor about needing a mammogram at all, skipped my first appointment, and never researched any diagnosis details past Stage Two – I just didn’t think it was possible.We were slow to understand as they spelled out what was happening in my seemingly healthy body. We were so slow that I think the oncology team must have wondered about us a bit.

How could I have metastatic cancer?

We have a 3-year-old. Right now, his favorite human is mommy.

I have work I love and many, many things to do.

You got mad at the oncologist when she offered us a range – the number of years we still have together as a family. You thought she was selling hopelessness – after all, she has no idea what we are capable of together.

Her face was serious, though, and according to the research I comb through in the middle of most nights, the estimate she gave us was actually generous.

I wake up at 3am most mornings to plan for her range. The house is quiet at that hour. You see, there is so much paperwork to do, so much to arrange. I am afraid of missing a detail or forgetting something that will make it easier for you two to be happy and successful and comfortable when I’m gone. If I could plan and color-code my way out of cancer, I would have done so by now in one of these morning sessions.

I wish I could show you how much I love you by planning.

Character is most visible when times are tough and people are scared. We’re scared now. So many disappoint in those trials, but not you. I don’t want to let you down more than my failing systems are letting us down already. I don’t want you to know how scared I am of MRI machines. I don’t want to slow us down.

You always show up and make me better.

We’ve seen challenge and surprise before. Not like this, though. This, you know, will be something we will handle together for a little bit but then you’ll have to shoulder it ALL on your own. Our home, our finances, our baby, his future. I wanted Dartmouth or something equally fancy for him. I wanted him to play soccer and I wanted to be his coach one season (maybe more) until he asked me not to embarrass him anymore. I wanted him to swim in meets and I wanted to be a bit judgmental of his girlfriends. Will you please do all that for him? Will you tell him how very much I would have loved to?

You are more present now than when we were broke and doing too much studying and trying to make it in strange, lonely cities. I see your character. I see you showing up and it makes me feel like Matthew will be ok.

He has you.

I love you more, teammate."

Kate is a brilliant academic and a tough fighter,  but her true glory and grace reside in her quieter moments of being  a caring wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend: a friend who has listened to and guided others--and me--more times than I can count.  She goes out of her way to visit, listen, share, and counsel her loved ones in other cities and towns, despite her schedule filled with appointments, Ted Talks, and book signings.  

We will fight alongside her, and we will love her every moment as she battles this incredibly arbitrary, unscrupulous foe.  And unfortunately, cancer not only robs our loved ones of time and health...it also unreasonably empties our bank accounts of hope for a bright future for ourselves and our families after the war is won or lost.

My ask for you is simple:  give what you feel you want and have to provide.  Whatever brought you here, whatever you can give by being here;  Your time, a hand-written note to Kate, a planned visit or phone call with her or her family, money to replace Shane and Kate's decimated savings account,  a start for Matthew's college fund, a precious trip to Disney for the family, or a prayer or meditation where you can deliver happiness into the universe with Kate's name on it...we appreciate them all. 

You can click on the Ways To Help button to reach Kate's GoFundMe campaign!  You can also visit her GoFundMe site:  gofundme.com/drkate

Thank you for being here.  Much love to all of you.