Santa Rosa's Kate Burke loses battle with cancer at 46

  • Burke family with Chris Smith story 2/12/13

Kate Burke, whose valiant fight against cancer and her family's love-fueled devotion to her was chronicled in Thursday's Press Democrat, died late Thursday afternoon at her Santa Rosa home. She was 46.

Kathryn "Kate" McCartney Burke was surrounded by family and friends when she passed about 4:30 p.m., said her husband, Brian.

In April 2004, Burke had a seizure while her family was driving back from Disneyland. Three days later, she had another that put her in the hospital. A mass on her brain was detected and diagnosed eight weeks later as stage four glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer that often leads to death within a year.

Kate And Brian Burke


Upon her diagnosis, Burke retired from Lifetouch National School Studios and devoted her life to her family and others fighting brain cancer.

"We decided that rather than invest in anything else, we would invest in memories with our family," Brian Burke said.

For the next nine years, Burke worked on efforts to find a cure for cancer, educate others with similar diagnoses and support brain cancer research.

<NO1>She traveled to Washington, D.C., with Livestrong to implore Congress to increase funding for cancer research, organized teams for fund-raising walks for the National Brain Tumor Society and spoke at health symposiums about living with a tumor.

She also served on the board of Kathy's Camp, created by the late Kathy Van Riper of Cotati to treat children in families dealing with cancer to a fun getaway.

For three years in a row, Burke emceed the National Brain Tumor Society's San Francisco cancer walk.

In 2010, Burke received the "Ya Gotta Believe!" award from the Tug McGraw Foundation, which highlights inspirational accomplishments of those who have overcome the odds though their personal strength.

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