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SOIP advocate a force for breast cancer research and program support 

The first thought that crossed Kathy Steinmetz’s mind was, “I don’t have time for this.”  

At the time, the 53-year-old had a job at a church in Tomah where she lived, she had a son working toward a master’s degree in Minneapolis, and she had another son entering high school. And baseball was a family passion, and the summer season was just getting started.  

But a mammogram appointment 11 years ago stopped life in its tracks. She received a call from her doctor the next day. It revealed breast cancer. 

“(My doctor) assured me this was just a little blip in the road,” Steinmetz says. 

Nevertheless, treatment began, and as she cycled through the good days and not so good days, she clung tightly to her faith in God.  

“Peace was not having everything go perfectly. Peace was just knowing that it was going to be okay,” she remembers telling herself. 

For Steinmetz, that peace – and the prayers of many – is what carried her through the hard times: the chemotherapy, the radiation, the rounds of medications. It was a long journey – one that ended last fall with her final appointment with her oncologist.  

But during that journey, Steinmetz recognized the importance of breast cancer research and caring for those living with the disease, so – following the lead of two of her son’s friends who wanted to raise money for a confirmation project – she began a tradition in 2013 of forming a team for Steppin’ Out in Pink. 

“It started the journey of having a team and fundraising and just being able to give back so much more than I received,” she says. 

It’s that dedication to Steppin’ Out in Pink, her courageous fight against cancer and her attitude through it all that makes Steinmetz a natural selection as this year’s survivor advocate for Steppin’ Out in Pink, which is Saturday, Sept. 14. 

Her involvement, she says, is encouraged by the friends she has who find creative ways to fundraise, such as basket weaving classes and handmade quilt raffle, as well as her son, a musician, who performed a marimba concert, with proceeds going toward the event. Her sister even made cinnamon rolls during the pandemic for porch pickup. 

It’s clear Steinmetz has a tireless and enthusiastic group of supporters around her, and in many ways, she is their motivation. Now, the story she shares can be an example to others during her year of Steppin’ Out in Pink advocacy. And it all started with that confirmation project 11 years ago. 

“I realized much later that that was a steppingstone, so that I could do good things for other people,” she says. “I realized that if I just trust that God is going to put the words in my heart and in my mouth, the same as they’re going to put the right chemo drugs in my veins, if I can give that back to somebody by being there, then that’s okay. That’s what the purpose is.”