Tributes to Katherine

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Friends and family share stories and memories of Katherine, her time at UNC Chapel Hill School of Nursing and her battle with cancer.

This is only a sampling of the tributes the SON received about Katherine before and after she died. Some of what is said refers to the Wilson Family-Anne, John, JD and Fletcher and their influence and impact as friends and members of a close community. More tributes can be found here.

“I first met Katherine Wilson as an applicant to our program. She had just suffered the loss of a significant boyfriend, perhaps her fiance, in an avalanche, and was planning to return home for the semester for healing and therapy. I was struck by her physical fragility, but also by her inner strength and her self-assessment skills evidenced by her understanding of her strengths and limitations. She was well aware of the need to heal herself before having something to give to the profession as a student nurse.

My next interaction with Katherine was after her diagnosis of lung cancer as she began to piece together a student life under these circumstances. At this time I met her family and friends. I was struck by the strong support her family was able to give her in the midst of crushing news. Twice I shepherded Katherine through independent studies as she explored her illness and its meaning for nursing care. The first, an evaluation of her nursing care as a cancer patient, reflected her analysis of best nursing practices. The second, done near the end of her program of study with us, reflected her perception of family and client needs during the long periods between acute phases of her illness.

Katherine chose to give of herself to the Lineberger Cancer Center during the last year of her illness to foster the development of services for families and patients. Her videotape and CD are available as she shares her illness experiences with others. She gave me these materials with the instructions that I could use them as I saw best for the furthering of nursing education.

During her illness, I have come to know Katherine quite well. As her illness progressed, so did grave illnesses in my own family, many of whom she met during Relay for Life. She always reaches out to give support, care and love even as she needs it for herself as she struggles bravely ahead. She has been a model for us all in her life, her approach to life’s grave circumstances, and her approach to her impending death. Her analysis of nursing care and patient needs, her desire to turn her illness for positive and lasting gain and her courage throughout leaves me with an indelible impression of her remarkable character and courage.”

Professor Beverly Foster, January 18, 2005

“My name is Eliza Brooks and Katherine is my best friend. This is such a sad time for everyone. The scholarship is a wonderful way for everyone to show their love for Katherine. I would like to contribute to the scholarship monetarily as well as help document her truly amazing story. She is such an inspiration to all who know her and even those that have only heard of her wonderful spirit and love for life. Katherine’s graduation last May was a momentous occasion. She had been at Chapel Hill almost nine years and finally graduated with a nursing degree despite all obstacles that were presented. One of the many obstacles was/is her vision…Mrs. Wilson would read Katherine Wilson hundreds of pages of textbook material assigned per week because of her double vision. Anyone else would have given up but Kath was determined to succeed. There is so much to write about Katherine…it is so hard to put it all on paper. I will work on putting together a comprehensive story of our friendship.”

Eliza Brooks