Meet Kim Gurtler, cancer survivor
Cancer has touched Kim Gurtler in more ways than you can count. First, her two aunts, who were living across the country, were diagnosed with the disease and then passed away. Then, two close friends, both in their 30s, died from cancer. “Having two aunts as well as two close friends die of cancer is very hard to deal with,” she says. “I couldn’t help my aunts because of the distance, and I didn’t know how to help my friends. I felt helpless.”
Then cancer struck again — much closer to home.
“Here I am, healthy and active, the mother of two young children. I go to the doctor’s office, and find out I have a malignant form of melanoma, called spitzoid melanoma. My whole world turned upside down,” says Kim, who naturally was afraid of what the future would hold for her and her family.
After being bombarded with thoughts of ‘why me?’ and ‘how could this be happening to someone who does everything right?,’ Kim said she decided ‘enough’ with the self-pity and self-reflection. Remembering her feelings of helplessness when her friends were battling cancer, she decided that her antidote would be to reach out to help others.
It proved to be the right therapy for her.
As a long-time volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society, one of 16 national health charities working under the HealthPartners umbrella to transform the health of Canadians, Kim helps those with cancer live well despite their disease. “For me, this was a true transformation. It wasn’t about me anymore, but about making a difference in other people’s lives.”
The statistics state that one in four people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Of the immediate members of her family — husband, two children and herself — Kim says she is happy that she was the “one out of the four who got the disease.” A cancer survivor, Kim is “living proof that donating to HealthPartners works.”
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