Kathleen “Boo” Whitmer is many things – a teacher, an artist, a writer. But most important, she is a survivor who now helps others to do just that, survive.
Whitmer isn’t supposed to be alive. She was supposed to have died in the late 1970s when she was diagnosed with an untreatable form of cancer, sarcoma, cancer of the muscle tissue. She was lucky; she was treated with an experimental drug. Most of the individuals who participated in that test died. But the treatment damaged her heart. In 1999, after waiting for two years, Whitmer received a heart transplant and survived again.
Today Whitmer helps others to survive in a variety of ways. She has published two inspirational books based on her life with cancer, Green Rubber Boots: A Joyful Journey to Wellness (Peach Publications, 1997) and For the Asking: A Journey to Peace (Peach Publications, 2002). She offers advice through her short “hints” on stress management and finding happiness even with cancer at the holistic site on the internet. She’s also a popular speaker on stress, cancer and happiness and the art of getting well. She volunteers at Akron General Hospital’s Oncology Department, where she helps cancer patients deal with the disease through art.
Whitmer’s come a long way from her beginnings. She was a teacher at Kent State University when she faced cancer. She was an award-winning, popular teacher. In 1974, she won one of the coveted KSU’s Distinguished Teacher Awards. Her specialty was teaching prospective classroom teachers the importance of art in their curriculum. She spoke from experience. Whitmer had taught in Akron and Cleveland Heights area junior high schools. In the summer, she worked with art students at the Akron Art Institute.
Whitmer was – and still is – an artist. She often donates her work for fundraisers, especially for cancer-treatment centers and for the hospice. Whitmer is a member of Friends of Hospice.
–Kathleen L. Endres