...cancer survivor, magazine editor and performance artist
"Cancer did not take my life, I have given it willingly–to educate and empower women and men about this terrible disease."
Kathy LaTour is nationally known as a passionate author, educator, and cancer survivor who has reached millions with her message of hope and inspiration. She has not only made public appearances across the world, but has been featured on national television shows such as “The Today Show” and “CBS’ Evening News” and in newspapers across the country. Additionally, references to and excerpts from her book, The Breast Cancer Companion, have appeared in numerous publications, such as Good Housekeeping and the bestseller, Chicken Soup for the Surviving Soul.
Diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 1986, Kathy LaTour underwent a modified radical mastectomy and chemotherapy. Since her diagnosis of breast cancer at the age of 37, Ms. LaTour has been active in the national survivor community, speaking to survivor, medical and lay audiences from coast to coast. Kathy experienced a second diagnosis of breast cancer resulting in a second mastectomy in fall 2007, putting her in the unique perspective of being both a long-term survivor and a new survivor.
In 2004, she debuted her one-woman show “One Mutant Cell,” a humorous and poignant account of her journey through breast cancer, which she has performed more than 40 times for a variety of cancer events.
A writer and editor for more than 30 years, she currently serves as editor-at-large for CURE: Cancer, Updates, Research & Education, the largest circulation cancer-patient education magazine in the country that she helped found in 2001. In 2005, CURE was named the best health magazine in the USA by Folio Magazine. For her writing on cancer she has received numerous awards.
Her book, The Breast Cancer Companion (William Morrow and Co., 1993), was the result of interviews with more than 120 women and 75 men and health care professionals. The paperback edition, (Avon Books), was released in 1994. Now out of print, The Breast Cancer Companion continues to sell and has been called “a bound support group” by oncologists and survivors.
She served for four years on the board of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, and helped found Gilda’s Club, North Texas. She was also instrumental in founding The Bridge Breast Network in Dallas, a unique coalition of breast cancer survivors and area health care professionals who are providing diagnosis and treatment to uninsured women who may have breast cancer.
For 23 years, Kathy LaTour served as a senior lecturer and an award-winning faculty member in Corporate Communications & Public Affairs at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, where she taught strategic writing courses and oversaw the nonprofit emphasis. She has also taught International Public Relations and Editorial and Critical Writing. In 1997, she received the university’s “M” award, the highest award given to faculty /staff at SMU.
About the Program ("One Mutant Cell")
A message from the playwright
“This monologue, like cancer, has a life of its own. Since the publication of my book, The Breast Cancer Companion, in 1993, I have spoken across the country and in Canada about surviving cancer. The focus of that talk, “Life After Breast Cancer: A New Way of Living”, has always focused on the reality that cancer is a dual experience, medical and emotional. In my speech, I would call for recognition by our physicians that healing only comes from an integrative approach to cancer, recognizing that our bodies are only one aspect of our selves.
I am glad to say that in the past 10 years, we have seen many strides in the addition of complementary approaches to healing that address the soul and spirit of the person with cancer-- and his or her family and friends.
As I became more comfortable speaking, I began adding a little humor to my talk, often to balance the many difficult emotions in the room. These "asides" were the stories of the experience, and they were usually presented with the irony, humor or sarcasm that the situation addressed.
The first time an audience laughed at one of the asides, I recognized a truth for those of us who have "done" cancer: While our cancers and treatments may be different, we have many universal experiences, and by connecting with each other about these moments comes understanding and affirmation.
My audiences loved these moments, and I liked the balance it provided to have them laughing between the serious stuff. It made it easier to get the point across, and, let's face it, laughter, like tears, is an experience that research has shown has healing qualities all its own.
In writing “One Mutant Cell”, I distilled these stories from my speaking dates and integrated them into the story of my cancer journey. I have been told by those who have heard it that it helped them reframe some issues for their own lives -- a writer's highest praise.”
-- Kathy LaTour
Comments on Kathy LaTour:
"Kathy's inspirational words describing her cancer experience at the Stowe Weekend of Hope ended with a well-deserved standing ovation and lots of tears--both hers and ours. What a genuinely honest, straight-forward and moving speaker."
Jo Sabel Courtney, Co-Chair and Founder, Stowe Weekend of Hope, Stowe, Vermont
“Kathy LaTour, a 20-year cancer survivor herself, tells her story with such a lighthearted approach; giving all that attend hope and joy.”
Sharon Koehling, Astra Zenaca, Oklahoma
“We LOVED having you speak in Kansas City. Your talk was absolutely wonderful, and we have received so many rave reviews.”
Linda Nocita, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Kansas City, Kansas
“You are terrific! You made us laugh, cry and gave us a call to action.”
Susan Ghertner, Breast Cancer Resource Center of Austin, Texas
“The response from staff and the public is extremely positive. We continue to receive calls and comments thanking and complimenting you on such an uplifting presentation.”
Dawn Watt, Kaiser Permanente, Denver, Colorado
“Happy sponsors, a standing ovation, and near sell-out crowds, what more could an event Chair ask for? Awareness Day was a tremendous success thanks to your inspirational words.”
Mary Collins, Awareness Day Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Vancouver, British Columbia
“The physicians were awakened to new ways to help their breast cancer patients by not only perceiving that there may be a large psychosocial trauma with which to deal, but also by realizing that there are definite recommendations with which to address those hurdles. Truly, your message in the Breast Cancer Companion needs to be heard, and it was an even bigger pleasure to hear that message in person.”
John Frame, M.D., Surgical Associates, Tulsa, Oklahoma
“I have heard the best of the best speak, Harvard professors and the like. But, I have yet to see a speaker captivate an audience like Ms. LaTour. She gave me, as an oncology physician, much to think about.”
Evaluation to Nancy Hieb, R.N., Mid-Michigan Regional Medical Center, Midland, Michigan
“It was the consensus opinion that we will have a difficult time finding such a dynamic speaker for future events.”
Alan Hollingsworth, M.D., The University of Oklahoma Health Science, Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
“Because you have been there, are so articulate and obviously care greatly for others, your words seemed to have a very personal impact on each individual in the audience.”
Maureen Molaro, Chair, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, BC Chapter
“Your names for phases of emotional recovery are fantastic – it brings a smile to my face every time I think about them. Your charm and style are contagious to the audience.”
Nancy Byrd, Survivor and Vice President, the Susan G. Komen Foundation
“The event was a great success, due in large part to that magnificent presentation you gave at the luncheon. According to our questionnaire, your ‘percentage satisfaction’ was 100%.”
Barbara McGregor, Forum Chair, Alberta Breast Cancer Foundation, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
"Kathy Latour is a “tour de force” in her one woman play which serves as testimony to the strength of the human spirit in the face of life-threatening illness. Her presentation will move you from laughter to tears as she describes the “see-saw” of emotions that will be familiar to anyone who has dealt with a cancer diagnosis. Hers is a story of hope and triumph delivered with candor, warmth, and compassion; an experience not to be missed!”
Robert J. Brooks, M.D., Arizona Oncology Associates, Medical Director, Patient Advocacy, US Oncology