No Fault In Our Star

We have applauded my sister Kathy through an impressive assortment of milestones, including bride, birthday girl and Wisconsin Teacher of the Year. On Friday, we watched her pull on a purple T-shirt and step to the podium to acknowledge the achievement that gives us the most pride: survivor.

Asked to speak as the honorary survivor at the 2014 Menomonee Falls Relay for Life, Kathy stepped up and delivered a gracious and heartfelt thank you.

Though she’s had a grueling year, she mentioned none of the painful “ectomies” associated with her recovery from Her2neu positive breast cancer.  Instead, she focused on all of the optimism surrounding her.

From its superintendent, a fellow breast cancer survivor, to its teachers and staff, to the sweet students who never mentioned hair loss or other telltale signs, Menomonee Falls High School has risen to the occasion of Mrs. Finley (née Kostelnik)’s brutal disease.

Our tears on Friday sprang from gratitude for the atmosphere of love and support Kathy enjoys at her home away from home.

Kathy also took the occasion to publicly thank one of her fiercest caregivers, her step-son Traveain, who walked with her every day, and called her “Kathryn” when he thought she wasn’t following her doctor’s instructions closely enough.

Kathy took her time as she made her way around the Menomonee Falls track; she had plenty of people to hug along the way, many high fives to return and a whole track full of fellow survivors who lifted their faces to the warm sun and enjoyed one of the most beautiful nights of the year.


She’s a survivor. Go team!

Kathy's Caregivers

Kathy took a second lap with her caregivers, represented here by Molly, Traveain, and Grandma Peggy.

Katherine rocks out

Katherine boogied with the awesome MC, who performed an unplugged set under the hot sun.

Kathy and her geek squad

This is Kathy, a library media specialist, with her fantastic geek squad members.

Kathy and Vince

Kathy and Vince, who managed to get his cellphone fixed in the middle of a lap. Seriously.

Falls Schools Rock

Falls schools rock!

Tutu cute

I loved this family. The triumph! The tutus!

You and Beautiful

Katherine and I matched by accident, but could those You Are Beautiful T-shirts be directed at a more appropriate group? We think not.

Cute group

Chatty Kathy had a great time making her way around the track.

Kathy and Dr. Pat Greco

This is Kathy and Menomonee Falls School Superintendent Dr. Pat Greco, a fellow survivor and invaluable resource for Kathy.

Kostelnik trained

We had to stop frequently to get shots Team Kathy (officially known as “No Fault in Our Stars”)

More friends

I think Kathy’s smile muscles got the most workout. To date, the Menomonee Falls Relay For Life has raised more than $58,000!

She spoke less than five minutes, but Kathy’s survivor speech had a great impact. Enjoy…


Posted on June 2, 2014, in Family Stories, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Kathy Finley

    Just read that today is National Cancer Survivors Day!

  2. Kathryn Ziske

    Another beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Relay is dear to my heart. I organized the first ever in Texas Bark For Life where the dogs walked and raised money for Relay For Life. I organized 5 years of them. Our event was only 3 – 4 hours and daytime. Our most successful year was the 3rd year — over $18,000!

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