In December of 2013, Kati Kleiser noticed her abdomen distending to the point of looking several months pregnant. An avid runner with a plethora of marathons under her belt, she was confused as to why she was gaining so much weight, and only in her stomach. As the days passed, she became more and more uncomfortable and her bladder began to prolapse. The Registered Nurse in her knew what was happening: “I have cancer.” Kati was officially diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer on December 31, 2013, her youngest daughter’s birthday. What she was experiencing was her abdomen filling up with fluid, called ascites. Having survived cervical cancer earlier in life, Kati already had a hysterectomy. After her diagnosis she had surgery to remove her ovaries as well, and began other treatment, such as chemotherapy. Before Kati was a cancer patient, she was married to Jim Kleiser, the owner of Mr. Electric of Portland/Vancouver and Five Star Painting of Vancouver, and a mother to her two daughters, Chelsie and Cassidi, along with three grandchildren, A.J., Sydney, and Kendylin. She loved them all, but her grandchildren held an extra special place in her heart. Kati was also a Registered Nurse and taught nursing students at Washington State University, which quickly became a passion of hers. Kati was a die-hard Raiders fan, a runner, enjoyed camping and water sports, but would never pass up an opportunity to watch a good show with her family and a bowl of popcorn.
Kati fought extremely hard for three years, becoming close with the staff at Compass Oncology, including Dr. Scott Rushing. Kati’s husband Jim would often accompany her to treatments at Compass Oncology. Many times he would run to get Kati some food while she was undergoing the treatment process. He realized how impactful a plate of bagels and cream cheese would be to the patients undergoing their treatment. Jim has partnered with a local company, Seize the Bagel, to provide bagels and cream cheese to the Vancouver Compass Oncology treatment room on Thursdays once a month.
Kati went into a remission for a short period of time, but unfortunately the cancer came back. It continued to spread and there was nothing left to do, but to ensure she was as comfortable as possible, until she finally lost her battle on December 22, 2016.
Kati spent her life teaching people and she loved her students and teaching. Upon her passing, her family wanted to make sure her legacy would continue. Her husband Jim wanted his companies to become long-term, committed donors to a nonprofit that would best represent her and her lifelong work of education. This is why he has chosen to partner with the Sherie Hildreth Ovarian Cancer (SHOC) Foundation.
If she were still with us today, Kati would want to increase awareness of ovarian cancer, specifically the silent warning signs such as abdominal bloating and discomfort, loss of appetite, constipation, fatigue, and frequent urination. These symptoms are so subtle that many women do not choose to see a doctor until the cancer has already reached stage III or IV. She would also stress the importance of balance in life: “Take care of yourself, but have fun and enjoy what life has to offer, it’s all about balance.” Then, she would probably make some sort of joke even in the most difficult of times and end it with, “Go Raiders!”
— Written by daughter Chelsie Patterson and husband Jim Kleiser
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