Kathi Goertzen showed public courage in journalism and life
The death of accomplished KOMO-TV journalist Kathy Goertzen is a story of courage and perseverance.
Seattle Times Editorial
Kathi Goertzen was an accomplished journalist and reassuring fixture at KOMO-TV for nearly three decades. Her death at 54 from a longtime battle with a brain tumor ends a story of courage and perseverance.
Goertzen was stricken with a brain tumor at age 40. From that moment on, as she underwent nine surgeries, some 10 hours long, and repeated radiation treatment, Goertzen retained accessibility and connection with Seattle viewers.
Since 1979, Goertzen has been a figure in Seattle journalism and in the advance of women in Pacific Northwest broadcasting.
At the breaching of the Berlin Wall, she was the first local U.S. reporter to broadcast from the Brandenburg Gate. She won five Emmy Awards and one Edward R. Murrow journalism award. For 24 years, she was the speaker at the annual luncheon of the YWCA of Seattle.
Initially, doctors offered her a more hopeful prognosis of the nonmalignant tumor. Numerous operations and procedures bought her time, but robbed her of her voice, the ability to eat and the face of the woman we knew.
Through it all, she shared her fight with her viewers. She returned again and again to work next to co-anchor Dan Lewis, and went on the air in 2011 when the effects of the tumor were visible on her face.
That is public courage.
Her story is a reminder, too, of the risks of ordinary life. The disease she had, meningioma, is more prevalent in people who have been exposed to unusual amounts of radiation, and more prevalent in women than in men. Still, with today's medical knowledge, most cases are not preventable. Sometimes the victim defeats it. Sometimes it defeats the victim. Sometimes it grows slowly and has no effect at all.
As she fought for her own life, Goertzen launched a fight for others. Sales of bracelets designed by her daughters seeded the Kathi Goertzen Foundation to fund research to cure brain tumors.
In the end she will be remembered most of all for her attitude toward misfortune and toward life.