BURLINGTON, Vt. – A group of caregivers at a Burlington assisted living facility want the community to pitch in to help a co-worker who’s been fighting for her own life as she serves others.
Katrina Watkins’ friends call her a loving and dedicated caregiver. She’s continued to serve low-income elderly patients at Cathedral Square in Burlington despite a terminal breast cancer diagnosis that has required multiple surgeries, including a double mastectomy.
“It gives me joy that I can give them some type of peace when I’m around them, that I can talk to them and they understand they’re not alone,” Watkins said.
Katrina has put her own health risk throughout the pandemic, making the daily trip from St. Albans to Burlington and working well into the night.
“Katrina is a very soft-spoken and very kind person, she’s one of those people you wouldn’t know that she has all these heavy things going on in her personal life,” said her colleague Caitlin Kriv.
She has faced additional adversity in recent weeks. In October, her car caught fire on the drive to work and burst into flames. Fortunately, she was uninjured.
The car was her family’s sole means of transportation. Without it, she has been unable to get to work, bring her son to doctors appointments, or drive her teenage daughter to school.
Kriv and other coworkers who have been awed by Katrina’s determination and courage knew they had to band together and help. They launched a GoFundMe page to try and get her a new vehicle.
“It was very much a coordinated effort among all of us,” Kriv said. “Time was of the essence, she hadn’t been able to get to work 3 or 4 days at that point, which hurts her financially but also stops her from going to treatments.”
Katrina is a dedicated mother with a 17 year-old who is getting ready for college, and a three year-old son with special needs. She said her children and husband have been everything during her struggles.
“Being able to see them be productive and helping me on their own is… They’re my world, you know?”
Her coworkers’ gesture of kindness has put a bright spot in Katrina’s life at a time when she needed a break, as well as a reminder of the good in others.
“I haven’t had a whole lot of that in my lifetime, and especially with everything I have been going through for the last few years, it makes me feel good that people think of me that way, to help me out,” Katrina said.
Katrina is battling Stage 4 breast cancer, and was first diagnosed in 2014. She is determined to continue helping her patients for as long as she can, and is exploring alternative treatments.