Dr. Kathy Grega Digges OCF Memorial Fund
Dr. Kathy Grega Digges was diagnosed with IV Stage oral cancer in 2006. When her little step-grandson came to her and asked if she could check and see if he had strep throat, she said: “I don’t know. Let’s compare it to my throat.” When she looked and saw a large red nodule on her own tonsil, she knew instantly that it had to be oral cancer. In just a few days it was confirmed, and she was given only a few months to live.
When she called to tell her friend of this terrible news, her friend began looking for help and support for Kathy. Together, they learned of the Oral Cancer Foundation which helped Kathy find new interventions at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York and ultimately with Dr. Arlene Forastiere at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. This new care and research helped to prolong Kathy’s life another precious two years. Though her battle was often times nothing short of horrific, she also had weeks to take eagerly, long-awaited trips with her husband and family. During this time, Kathy also helped to create and fund several major college endowments at Western Washington University and Virginia Tech.
Kathy grew up in Seattle, Washington. She was the eldest of nine children and the daughter of a surgeon, Dr. Stephen Grega. Kathy always had a natural curiosity about almost everything! She began her college studies at Western Washington University completing her degree in Geology in 1971. She then went on to the University of Washington and received another Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology. Soon after, she decided to attend medical school at Georgetown University and went on to a distinguished career as a general surgeon and specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology in Southern California and later in Northern Virginia, where she lived with her husband Robert Digges. Kathy loved many things including: books, art, travel, and gardening and was an avid member of the Lily Society in Washington D.C. Most of all, she was a true and dedicated humanitarian and the most wonderful companion and friend anyone could ever have. Throughout her life and illness, she always showed a profound interest in the lives and well-being of others. After a day of exchanging gifts and singing Christmas carols, Kathy died in the wee hours of December 26, 2008, surrounded by friends, her loving husband, six step-children and their spouses, and twelve step-grandchildren. She is sorely missed by her husband, family, patients and friends.