I’ll never forget my conversations with Kathy.
She was the type of person who could listen with such intensity that you actually felt like she was looking straight through you, to your core.
My Dad and Kathy’s husband, John, had met through work in the early 90s. When John started dating Kathy (pictured above in the black sweater), my Dad recalls a phone call with John to talk about the new lady in his life.
My Dad: “So, tell me about this girl. What does she do?”
John: “She’s got a degree in geological engineering. She climbs mountains and stuff and goes on digs.”
My Dad: “So she’s a mountain climber, right?”
John: “Yeah, I guess she is!”
From that day on, Kathy was affectionately known by my family as “MC”, or the “Mountain Climber.” Though Kathy wasn’t a traditional mountain climber in the sense of the word, the nickname stuck, and would take on a whole new meaning 22 years later.
Kathy’s passion and life’s work: feeding the hungry
What Kathy actually did was just as cool as climbing mountains. She worked tirelessly to end world hunger.
As President and CEO of the World Agricultural Forum, Kathy traveled all over the world, on a mission to empower agriculture to feed every man, woman and child. Her company brought world leaders together from across value chains and between public and private sectors to promote a food secure world.
Knowing Kathy, learning what she did didn’t surprise me. She was always feeding people – both literally and figuratively – making sure her hubby and 2 boys were fed, loved, supported and encouraged – along with the countless other kids who lived at the Moldthan house over the years.
On a sad day in 2012, Kathy was tasked with climbing the biggest mountain she had ever encountered. She was diagnosed with bile duct cancer, a rare form of liver cancer. This was a devastating blow for Kathy, for her family and for anyone who was lucky enough to call her a friend.
After a thorough evaluation, her doctors told her there was nothing they could do. They advised her to enjoy the little time she had left. We were crushed.
But Kathy – oh no – she was just getting started. In true mountain climber style, she was ready to take on this treacherous climb. In her eyes, defeat or any type of negativity wasn’t an option.
Climbing the mountain
She found a doctor in NYC who was finding success treating other cancer patients who had nowhere else to turn. With fierce determination, she began making the trip from St. Louis to NYC to undergo intensive, and experimental, chemotherapy treatments.
While in NYC, she would stay at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, a place where patients and their caregivers can stay and recuperate during their treatments. Despite her challenging journey, Kathy’s positive attitude of gratitude shined through her regular email updates:
“Moldthans are on our knees in gratitude once again. It has been a little stressful these past few weeks, but my kidneys are up to 35% function (up from 20%). I was ecstatic. We are so relieved and once again, thank you for carrying us through another challenge. We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family.”
We were hoping for the best, clinging to every word of positive news we received over the next 3 years. Her progress went up and down, but her faith and positivity never wavered.
She still wanted to know how we were all doing! She would ask me about my life, about my wedding planning, about my career – Kathy always took a heartfelt interest in how my life was going, from the time I was 12 years old.
Whenever I asked her how she was doing, she always emphasized the good in her life and how incredibly lucky she felt to have her family – in particular her hubby John, who she called “her rock.” Many of her close friends and family can’t recall hearing her complain even once. Incredible.
On April 2, 2014, Kathy lost her battle. Outliving her initial diagnosis by 2 years, she climbed this mountain with more tenacity and positivity than I thought humanly possible. As my Dad said,
“Kathy Moldthan was simply – the best, one of our favorite people to be with any place, anywhere, any time. Words do not adequately express what a relentlessly positive, wonderful, courageous, caring and gracious woman that we have lost.”
I will never forget Kathy. I think about her every day.
I will never forget her amazing ability to find a positive perspective in the midst of such challenging circumstances.
I will never forget the journey she made from St. Louis to San Francisco to be at our wedding, just 6 weeks before her passing.
John gave a beautiful and touching wedding blessing and talked about his journey through life with Kathy. He talked about what true love is and gushed over his beautiful, courageous and remarkable “wifey”, as he calls her.
It was truly one of the most special moments of my life.
This one’s for you, MC. When I get to the top of this mountain I’m climbing called life, I know you’ll be waiting for me.
“The American Cancer Society will invest your donation to continue providing free lodging, programs and services to cancer patients and their caregivers who stay with us at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Jerome L. Greene Family Center. We thank you for your support!”