She had just endured a double mastectomy and caught pneumonia, but there she sat at the girls' quarterfinal volleyball game.
Kathy Bluethman is usually the one giving support. Right now, she needs some. The Warriors' athletic director must pull together $10,500 to continue her battle against breast cancer. -
Bluethman underwent a double mastectomy in October, but doctors were unable to remove all the cancer. The cancer has now progressed to Stage 4 and spread to the outer lining of her lungs.
Bluethman is currently in the hospital with pneumonia and undergoing chemotherapy treatments to shrink the cancer before it can be removed. She will then travel to Houston, Texas, to visit specialists at the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center. The center is renowned for helping people with advanced stages of cancer.
To get in the door, Bluethman needs a down payment of $10,500.
Whittell High School is doing everything it can to make that happen.
The students, community and staff have rallied around Bluethman. The classrooms and halls are bursting with pink. Support is pouring out of the Warriors, from bright pink Ms. B shirts down to dyed pink hair.
The support spreads to the athletic field.
The boys football, girls volleyball, boys and girls soccer and cross-country teams all wore pink jerseys for games in October along with pink shoelaces and socks.
The outpouring is not surprising, considering Bluethman's door has always been open to the kids in this community. She was, after all, one of them at one point.
Bluethman graduated from South Tahoe High School in 1981. During her time as a Vikings she played volleyball and cheered. Bluethman went on to coach cross-country at the high school and volleyball and track at the South Tahoe Middle School. -
From Viking to Warrior, Bluethman keeps fighting.
Giving up doesn't seem to be in her vocabulary. She was involved in a hit-and-run accident five years ago that left her in a coma for weeks with a severe brain injury. Whittell staff said her survival was miraculous.
Bluethman had just seemed to recover when she received another devastating blow in February of this year. She was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She elected to undergo chemotherapy and for awhile the treatment seemed to have worked. She went in for routine checkup recently, however, and learned she would need a double mastectomy.
But through it all, Bluethman's spirits remain high and the support for her kids unwavering.
Bluethman once said that every student felt like one of her kids. The statement didn't seem so far-fetched as she sat in the bleachers at the volleyball game last week. She was the one wearing pink and a big smile.
Whittell will hold the first of many fundraisers at The Red Hut off Ski Run Boulevard on Thursday, Nov. 15, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets will be on sale at Whittell High School, the South Tahoe counseling department and the Tahoe Daily Tribune for $10. The $10 includes a hamburger, chips, soft drinks and great company. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Those interested in selling tickets can call Whittell at 775-588-2446.
A bank account has also been set up at Wells Fargo under the name of "Kathy Bluethman Cancer Fund." The account number is 7555072284.