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Faces of Blue: Claudia Kittock

By March 2, 2014Faces of Blue
Colon Cancer Coalition

My name is Claudia Kittock. I have a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in education, specializing in developmental psychology and music education. I am a 61 year-old woman, semi-retired college professor, who is blissfully happy, wonderfully healthy, and a continual work in progress. I am currently finishing work on a book about my journey through colon cancer and subsequent recovery. It is titled Health Through Chaos.


Claudia with her husband Rick, and two sons Tyler and Ryne.

I am happily married to the love of my life and we have been blessed with 2 sons.  Our sons are college graduates and employed! I recently took early retirement from 38 years of teaching, most of those years as a college professor. I loved my job but am excited about my Act III.

I have always been a person of enormous energy and zest for life and learning.  I never seemed to need as much sleep as other people and thrive on challenges, and numbers of them at any one time.  I was the one who took on more work and more challenges and, for the most part, seemed to thrive in that environment.

Eight years ago, I was a grieving daughter, having lost both my mother and father within 2 years.  I was a college professor, the mother of 2 teen-aged boys, and the wife of a full time teacher.  Life was full, messy, exhilarating, sad, and exhausting.  The 2 years I spent helping my parents as they faced the end of their lives had been the most difficult years of my life.

My father had exploratory surgery 2 days after Christmas and found out he had advanced cancer that had already spread throughout his abdomen.  When I walked into his hospital room he said, “You look like hell!” I laughed and explained I was worried about him.  He wanted none of that and he asked me to help him get his affairs in order and be his power of attorney.  I did that with great love. Dad and I talked daily, sometimes 5-6 times a day in addition to trips to see the attorney, the banker, etc.  My father also reminded me daily to “take care of Mom”. At times, I found that insulting.  What else would I do?  How could he think I wouldn’t take care of Mom?

Twins night

Claudia and her husband, Rick, at Twins Night.

After my father’s death, 8 months after his diagnosis, it became immediately apparent what “take care of Mom,” meant.  What I had thought was a gradual cognitive decline was now, obviously, much more serious than that.  The day of Dad’s funeral, Mom set a towel on fire while trying to make toast.  She needed full time care, and I had to find a place that could care for her as she had cared for all of us, with great love and kindness.  It taxed all of my research skills, love, and patience.  I eventually found a wonderful facility and assisted mom through the last two years of her life.

At my mother’s funeral, my oldest sister and best friend, made me promise that I would put my energy into taking care of myself.  The toll that the last two years had taken on me was obvious physically and it was now time to get caught up on taking care of me.

Two months after Mom’s death, during my first, routine colonoscopy, the doctor found colon cancer.  That was the beginning of a journey I never anticipated.  It was a journey that challenged me, and the people who loved me, in every possible way.

I had almost 2 years of chemotherapy. Each treatment began with IV steroids to help me cope with the nausea.  While eating was difficult, and, at times impossible, at the end of treatment I had gained 65 pounds from the steroids.  My body had been battered by 2 years of chemotherapy, 28 radiation treatments, 65 extra pounds, and 9 surgeries.

Me on Malibu

Claudia on the beach in Malibu.

At the end of that battle, I began another battle that I was even less prepared to wage.  Having no evidence of cancer was and is fabulous, but what do I do with the ravages of the treatments?  How do I heal?  How do I lose the excess weight?  How do I live every moment of my life healthily?  Was it even possible? It has changed us all, forever.  Some of those changes are for the better.  We grab each and every healthy day with greater gusto than before. We also work every day to maintain that health and to work through the trauma of what happened.

It took me 4 years of daily work to regain my health.  Those years were spent reading, researching, listening, and trying out numbers of ideas to help me heal.  Once I started feeling even a bit better, I became “hooked” on that feeling.  It was odd and strange and exhilarating!  Today, I run 20 miles a week, lift weights, take a weekly yoga class, maintain a healthy weight after losing 75 pounds, and thankfully, have no evidence of cancer.  I am healthier than I was in my 20s, and so much happier.

I am convinced that there are no secrets to finding health. There is no one right way, but there is strong evidence to suggest that doing numbers of small, but important things can lead to a healthier life.  It involves embracing the “truth” about health, and it involves change.  These changes lead to feeling good, and it could be a brand new feeling, but it will be highly addictive.

One step at a time, spend each day doing what you CAN do, with the idea that this day could be the best I ever feel.  IF it is the best you will ever feel, what can you do today?


Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Ginny Goddard says:

    Such an uplifting story! Looking forward to your book!

  • Gail Gates says:

    Claudia’s story, and the strength she shows by sharing it, never ceases to inspire awe within me. Can you imagine reliving that fear over and over again as she writes down her experiences? But she does it because she is determined to help others understand health is more than something you mourn after it is gone. Claudia fought her way back to wholeness by setting new priorities, new goals, and releasing toxic relationships and life choices. She’s an advocate for preventing disease, but also for getting people back on track on so many levels. I cannot speak highly enough of her work, and her heart.

  • Jay & Kathy Ward says:

    Amazin story, amazing journey, amazing YOU!! The Colon Cancer Alliance chose exactly the right person to feature because you are (as your dear friend, Gail, just wrote) a truly inspiring woman. Your zest for life is palpable, your energy level is incredible, your wisdom and introspection combined with your kind, loving and caring heart is truly beautiful, and your story….your story is an uplifting testimonial that will encourage and empower so many people facing a myriad of health and life challenges. Well done, Claudia, well done!!

  • Anna Derhak says:

    Claudia, you inspire us all and I am so very proud of you and how you got your life and health back after those chaotic years! Keep up the great work and I cannot wait to read your amazing book, which will impact thousand’s!!

  • Kimberly Carl says:

    I can speak from personal experience that Claudia is an amazing women. Her strengh spirit and love for others shines through in everything she does. I have had the wonderful experience of attending a couple of courses taught by Claudia. She has made such an impact on me and in my eyes she is everything I would like to be when I grow up. I would like to thank her for all she is and will be.

  • Keep on working, great job!

  • […] Kittock | March 2 We were inspired by Claudia‘s uplifting energy. “My body had been battered by 2 years of chemotherapy, 28 radiation […]

  • Timmy says:

    May I simply say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what they are talking about on the web.
    You definitely understand how to bring an issue to light and make
    it important. More and more people need to check this out and understand this side of the story.

    I was surprised that you’re not more popular since you
    certainly possess the gift.

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