Sunday, September 25 , 2016, 11:50 am | Fair 83º

  • Follow Noozhawk on LinkedIn
  • Follow Noozhawk on Pinterest
  • Follow Noozhawk on YouTube
 
 
 
 

SBCC Student Conquers Cancer to Speak at Commencement

Kristen Webb will represent students at 65th annual graduation Friday

Devastated doesn’t begin to describe how Kristen Webb felt when she lost her older sister to breast cancer four years ago.

Her sibling was just 28, no one in the family had ever been diagnosed with the disease, and Webb was in the midst of her first year studying culinary arts at Santa Barbara City College.

Despite Webb’s distressed emotional state, the Thousand Oaks native set her mind on soldiering forward to earn a degree — a goal her late sister, Victoria, was just one semester shy of achieving.

Then, in 2011, Webb found a lump.

She, too, was diagnosed with breast cancer, beginning a journey that included a double mastectomy, five months of chemotherapy, and several reconstructive surgeries.

In a bizarre turn, Webb’s oldest sister (and only other sibling) was also diagnosed with the disease in 2013.

As she retold her story on a recent morning, Webb, now 30, appeared as optimistic as any other student on the cusp of graduation, planning for a future not always guaranteed.

It’s because of those hard-fought struggles that Webb will represent the SBCC student body Friday, speaking at the 65th annual commencement ceremony at 5 p.m. at La Playa Stadium, 721 Cliff Dr.

“In the beginning, it was surreal,” Webb said, recalling her sister’s death and her own battle with cancer. “But I really wanted to finish school. I just tried to stay focused. I was bald and sick, but I was really determined to get through it.”

Webb’s parents, sister and other supporters will be there to cheer her on, enjoying an honor earned because a public-speaking teacher nominated Webb for telling a courageous story most might find difficult to dredge up.

Webb’s fight with cancer directly explains how she ended up in a public-speaking course, a requirement for the associate’s degree in communication studies she decided to pursue after volunteering with the Healthy Women’s Program at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura.

She couldn’t cover medical bills, so the hospital’s foundation helped her with payments while Webb lent her face and voice to the nonprofit’s cause.

Now well and with a full head of wavy brown hair, Webb plans to go into charity fundraising, continuing this fall at Sonoma State University.

Webb credited remarkable support at home and school for bolstering her resolve.

“I’ve had people tell me that listening to my story has helped them get a mammogram,” Webb said. “If I can help one person, it’s worth it.

“Young people in general don’t take health seriously. I want to take all this bad stuff that’s happened in my life and turn it into some good.”

The culinary arts degree she earned last year could come in handy some day.

The way Webb sees it, charity work will be more rewarding and help spread her story to even more people.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >