LaTashia Kiel is the Co-founder, Vice President, and COO of the Kiel Colon Cancer Foundation, an Instructor in Clinical Nursing at the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing, a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin, a Registered Nurse for Seton Family of Hospitals specializing in House Supervising and Emergency care, a wife, a mother and a friend. She has spent the last two years creating a grassroots organization with her husband to honor the passing of his late mother to the deadly disease, colon cancer. Their approach has brought on national attention in their quest to rid the world of colon cancer deaths through their social media campaigns. When she is not preaching the importance of colon cancer screening, she is teaching the next generation of nurses at the UT-School of Nursing in Central Austin. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. Her focus is creating prevention programming for the community targeting colon cancer’s modifiable risk factors. Previously she served as the charge nurse for the only Level 1 trauma center in central Texas, University Medical Center at Brackenridge, now Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas.
A word from Co-founder, LaTashia Kiel:
I didn’t know Debra long. I met her in 2012 after I started dating George. One thing I learned is that it doesn’t take long to make a lasting impression. She made me feel as if I were a part of the family immediately. She was a bright and shining light everywhere she went that exuded beauty, wisdom, and love. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother-in-LOVE. You often hear horror stories from people about their in-laws, but she wasn’t remotely close to any of those anxiety-inducing stories I feared.
Once we found out about her diagnosis, I felt as if she was comfortable talking to me about issues that arose because of my background as a registered nurse. The last thing she said to me before she closed her eyes for the final time was, “Take care of my baby. Keep him busy. He won’t be ready to deal with me being gone right away. You will know when he is ready.” I promised I would do just that.
A few weeks after Debra died, I asked George if he would be willing to move forward with his idea to host the sneaker-focused basketball tournament he had thought of many months prior, but instead of focusing primarily on sneakers he could use this platform to warn others about colon cancer. He agreed.
After the event was over, George and I were having a conversation about colon cancer. He thought it was cancer in the stomach. I got online to show him information about colon cancer, and in the process found research that supported that this deadly disease was being diagnosed in people our age at increasing rates. It didn’t seem like anyone was talking about that-at least not in a language that we related to. We decided to be that voice. From this first revelation, the Kiel Colon Cancer Foundation was born.