'Thank you, Kathi, for giving me courage'

I very clearly remember my first day working at KOMO News. I was incredibly nervous. Coming from a neighborhood newspaper to a regional television station to start on a new web project, I had a lot to be anxious about. I felt out of place, disoriented and in awe of the talent around me.

But I was set at ease that first day when a kind and welcoming woman introduced herself, as if I didn't already know who she was. It was Kathi Goertzen. Someone with as much talent and recognition as her surely did not have to take the time to introduce herself to me, but that's just how Kathi was. I was not lucky enough to work with her often, but each encounter I had with Kathi was the same; She was kind, patient and humble.

In May 2011, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Immediately, I recalled a special Kathi had done on KOMO TV revealing a complication that had left part of her face immobile. Her honesty touched me deeply. Without any shame or fear, Kathi allowed the world to see her fight against the disease. I was irreversibly inspired. I decided in that moment that I would never hide my disease, because being open and honest about our imperfections is one of the greatest gifts we can share with the world.

Thank you, Kathi, for giving me courage when I needed it the most and showing me that there is no shame in illness. You are my hero, and a hero to everyone lucky to have known you.