Chandler Author Fights for a Cure

Kate Mathias, a mother of three, wife and author moved to Chandler from Iowa nearly eight years ago. She fell in love with the Arizona sunshine. Her new friends became family. Life was good. But in 2012, her neurologist misdiagnosed her with a stroke. She suffered daily headaches for 16 months, dropped 25 pounds and was so exhausted it was difficult to get out of bed, let alone care for her small children. Fate landed Mathias in the hospital with an injury, where she was assigned a new neurologist who refused to give up until she was correctly diagnosed.

A month later she discovered she had a brain tumor.

“When faced with my own mortality, it would forever change the way I looked at life. Mark Twain said, ‘There are two important days in your life; the day you’re born and the day you find out why.’ I’ve found my why. I need to make a difference in people’s lives,” says Mathias.

She’s the CEO and founder of Faith, Hope and Love Brain Tumor Foundation. Mathias leads the program with Tatum Boller, also a brain tumor survivor, and partners with Dignity Health East Valley Foundation.

Their mission is to fundraise to find a cure through brain tumor research. They also provide brain tumor patients and their families with support programs such as therapy, bereavement and financial planning. They also offer non-medical expense support, like care packages, plane tickets for family members and items needed while the patient isn’t working.

Before Mathias got sick she published a fiction series, and afterwards she was inspired to write a creative nonfiction book about her brain tumor journey titled “Awake, But Still Dreaming.” She donates a portion of the proceeds to the National Brain Tumor Society, as well as her foundation.

“Brain tumors are already such a downer, so I told the story using hope and humor,” says Mathias. “I’m fortunate to have hilarious kids who make me laugh every day.”

After surgery she became epileptic, having between 12-19 seizures daily. She couldn’t drive, it was still difficult to care for herself and her husband traveled for work.

“I know every parent is proud of their kids, but our children have had to grow up faster than most. When I got sick, they had to step up and do things to help me that most children wouldn’t have to do at such a young age,” says Mathias. “I’m in awe of their strength and courage they exhibit every day. They are, along with my husband, my rock and the reason I keep fighting.”

She has an annual MRI and will continue to do so for at least the next six years. If her scans remain stable, then she’ll be declared tumor-free.

“Every day that I get to wake up is a celebration and a gift—that’s why it’s called the present,” says Mathias. “I live like I’m dying and don’t take anything for granted. I tell people how I feel about them daily. I’m intentional in my actions and live my bucket list daily. I don’t wait to do the things I’ve always wanted to do.”  

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“When faced with my own mortality, it would forever change the way I looked at life. I need to make a difference in people’s lives.”