Victory through surrender

CCHS drama teacher Miss Katie Wilson wins cancer-fight.


Photo by Mr. John Wilson

Miss Wilson poses with a get well card after a scheduled chemotherapy treatment before her eventual cancer-free diagnosis.

By Cole Hume, Cathedral Catholic High School

Three months after Cathedral Catholic High School drama department director and performing arts teacher Miss Katie Wilson’s last scheduled radiation and chemotherapy treatments, a CAT scan determined the state of her cancer. 

“That CAT scan is what happened the other week,” Miss Wilson said. “The long-awaited scan was to tell me if the treatment had worked. I had to take the blood test and all the other [tests], so they could tell me if I had no evidence of disease, and that was in fact what they decided.

“I was cancer-free.”

After an exhaustive nine-month battle, a victorious cancer-free Miss Wilson recently returned to CCHS. Without worries about upcoming chemo sessions or about suffering from sluggishness and pain from treatments, Miss Wilson feels relieved that her endometrial cancer, which she disallowed from significantly disrupting her time spent with her son and her time teaching, is gone.

“You just knew she would come through,” close friend to Miss Wilson and CCHS U.S. history teacher Mr. Zak Myers said. “She’s one of those people who can fight through whatever. Whether it is her battle of losing weight or getting her son Kevin, she always comes through. You just knew she would battle through, even though she wouldn’t admit that.”

Students and alumni alike celebrated the no evidence of disease diagnosis.

“I heard from one of my friends, and I was jubilant,” former student of Miss Wilson and CCHS alumna Janna Shakiba ‘19 said. “I texted her right away and told her it meant the world to me. I told her I knew this whole time she would make it through because she is so resilient, and all our prayers had been answered. So much of her battle was for her family and her students, so se truly deserved this outcome.”

Miss Wilson powered through the pains and discomforts of treatment and endometrial cancer, and kept teaching despite doctor’s recommendations.

“I was encouraged to take a medical leave from my doctor,” Miss Wilson said, “but I wanted to keep teaching. Dr. Calkins was awesome and supported me on whatever my decision was. 

There were kids whose parents were going through it while I was or were just being diagnosed while I was battling,” Miss Wilson said. “They could talk to me and see how I was able to cope, and I think it empowered them and made them less afraid. That was a huge point [of continuing to work].”

Ultimately, Miss Wilson found strength in her support from the CCHS community. 

“I was sent cards, emails, and gifts,” Miss Wilson said. “I don’t have enough words for the type of support I received. I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to pay it forward.”

Despite her disease-free diagnosis, outreach from the CCHS community toward Miss Wilson has not subsided. 

“Even now, the support has continued. Since I’m bald [due to the chemotherapy], I am receiving hats and scarves. I don’t even know how to say thank you.

“This community is made up of angels.”

Although cancer-free, Miss Wilson continues to reflect on her battle and how refusal to give up brought her through it. 

“Honestly, my biggest lesson was to completely surrender to God along with the medical team he provided me,” Miss Wilson said. “I wasn’t in control, all I could do is take care and educate myself.

“But I had to surrender and learn that difficult brand of trust.”

Miss Wilson believes sacrificing her grip and putting her life in the hands of the Holy Spirit’s guidance and science’s brilliance worked in unison to achieve her cancer free label. 

“As someone who is a bit OCD, letting go and understanding this [situation] was not in my control was difficult,” Miss Wilson said. “My radiologist, who understood the timeliness of the situation and was ready to get all the necessary tests early on, helped show me God’s involvement. I wasn’t wearing any of my holy medals, and I had not stated I taught at CCHS, yet he hugged me and said, ‘at the end, it’s all in the Lord’s hands.’ He continued and said ‘can I pray with you’ and I said ‘yes’ and then we held hands tightly and he prayed a beautiful spontaneous prayer about me.”

Experiencing this unique interaction with sentiments not expected to be voiced from a medical professional, Miss Wilson was stunned and cried for the first time in her cancer battle. Many more specific instances with strangers and doctors occurred following the one in radiology, all inspiring Miss Wilson’s belief God supported her cause. 

“People like to say to me ‘thank God God cured you’,” Miss Wilson said. “And I believe that, but I also believe that God gave me the people and the science I needed. It was not an accident and some magical wand was waved over [to cure me], rather a bunch of great people, who helped save my life and to encourage me, were in my life because of God.”

Miss Wilson’s impact on the CCHS community is incredible, CCHS alumna Sofia Bosque ‘19 said. 

“I don’t know what I would do without her,” Bosque said. “I don’t know how this community would feel without her. It’s hard for me to even think about the alternative to her being diagnosed cancer-free because she’s that much of a blessing to all of us.”

Mr. Myers echoed Bosque’s sentiment.

“[Miss Wilson] is one of, if not the most recognizable person,” Mr. Myers said. “She treats everyone like she has known them for years, even those she’s only known for a week. When she was diagnosed, it was a huge blow to everyone’s morale, but she made it through and it is a huge deal and we are all very happy about it.”

CCHS’s award winning drama director Miss Wilson can now boast something more impressive than any of her beloved shows, in a victory over a ruthless and unrelenting opponent. 

Miss Wilson can say she went to war with cancer and won.

Taken immediately following Miss Wilson’s cancer-free determination, the Facebook video exhibits Miss Wilson's overcome with positive emotions. Video by Miss Katie Wilson

This story was originally published on El Cid on September 12, 2019.