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Originally published August 15, 2012 at 5:01 PM | Page modified August 15, 2012 at 5:01 PM

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Op-ed: Kathi Goertzen found the positive in everything, even brain tumors

Kathi Goertzen let her brain tumors teach her what's important in life. She did not let her brain tumors define her.

Special to The Times

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"THIS brain tumor business has been a wonderful experience in many ways. It's changed my life and the lives of a lot of people I love and we've learned what's really important."

Kathi Goertzen said that. It helps sum up her courageous 14-year fight against brain tumors that ended when Kathi died on Monday. She was just 54 years old.

But that was Kathi. Wonderful experience? Brain tumors? Really?

Kathi could find the positive in anything. It's one of the many reasons we loved her at KOMO-TV and why she was loved throughout the Western Washington community.

I can't count the times I heard her in the newsroom, on the phone, at Children's hospital or out in public sharing her positive thoughts with people facing medical issues or other tribulations in life.

She let her brain tumors teach her what's important in life. She did not let her brain tumors define her.

She marched on as the same loving, giving, caring, kind soul that God put on this Earth.

God must have a mission for her in heaven. Maybe that's why he took her back.

I met Kathi when I came to KOMO-TV in 1987. She became one of the most important people in my life, a woman I would admire on the news set, and off, as a true professional and a role model for the entire Western Washington community.

Kathi and I cried together many times over the years. We cried the hardest when we lost four Seattle firefighters in the 1995 Pang Warehouse fire and when four Lakewood police officers were gunned down by an assassin in 2009.

Even as reporters, we couldn't cover the news without feeling the same emotions as everyone else.

We always knew what the other was thinking in those breaking-news situations. When I stopped talking, Kathi was always ready to add perspective or move on with a new thought or new information.

Kathi never, ever asked, "Why me?" But she did ask, "Why?" She knew there was a reason she had brain tumors. I think it was so she could spread the word about "what's really important." Cherish family and the people you love. Cherish good health. Cherish good times. Cherish good friends.

Share your love. Give back. Truly care for others and for community.

As a board member for the YWCA of Seattle and King County, she helped raise millions of dollars. She was a strong supporter of Angeline's Women's Centers. Year after year, she opened her heart to the Children's Miracle Network Telethon.

Kathi was courageous, inspirational and beautiful right to the end.

Her spirit will live on.

I spent some time on Tuesday with Kathi's daughters Alexa and Andrea. Andrea was quick to tell me that, like her mom, she was not going to hide during this tough time. She's ready to carry on the cause to push for more brain-tumor research.

And when I asked Alexa if there's anything I could do for her -- she turned the tables and told me it's OK for me to be sad around her because she knows I am sad.

Both of the girls, the day after their mother's death -- thinking about and caring for others.

Mom would be proud.

Dan Lewis is a news anchor for KOMO-TV.

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