Henderson Officer continues serving community after terminal diagnosis

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Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 11:31 AM CDT
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HENDERSON, Ky. (WFIE) - Cancer, a disease that can touch everyone in some way, shape or form, even the toughest among us.

Police officers are asked to put on a brave face everyday, and one Henderson officer is refusing to lose her battle against the disease.

Officer Janna Gatten with the Henderson Police Department noticed odd symptoms early in 2020. She was 46 at the time.

“Due to COVID, I was not able to get in to see a physician. My symptoms were very minor,” Gatten explains. Doctors order a colonoscopy in May. A mass was found and doctors confirm Officer Gatten’s fears, stage four colon cancer.

“When they removed the mass in my colon, it had been there anywhere from two to five years and I had no idea. I look at my physician and I’m like ‘what? This is not supposed to happen to me, I’m a police officer. I’m strong, I’m tough.,’” Gatten says tearfully.

Gatten has spent the last two and a half years refusing to lose her battle.

“I’ve had surgeries, I’ve gone through several chemos but I’ve taken my last dose. My body can not handle it anymore. So it was either Chemo is going to kill me or cancer’s going to kill me. I’m just riding it out, living the best life I can everyday and just counting my blessings. My book is not going to be closed by cancer, it’s going to be on my terms,” Gatten says.

Officer Gatten continues suiting up everyday to patrol the streets of Henderson. Now, another purpose keeps her going.

“This has totally changed me as a person. I just want to be a walking billboard, a martyr for the situation. I’m here for a reason, my reason is to get word out that watch yourself and get checked up and don’t be scared of the colonoscopy,” Gatten explains.

Since her last round of Chemo, Officer Gatten has lost all of her hair for the first time. As it was coming out in patches, she told one of her brothers she was going to the barber to shave her head. Without hesitation, he offered to go too and also get his head shaved. This started the support from her “brothers in blue.” Gatten’s circle of support is incredibly important to her throughout this fight.

“This can make or break you,” Gatten says.

Fellow officer, Joe Whitledge has served alongside Officer Gatten for the past 13 years.

“I went to Barber Gatten and she did a great job on it,” Whitledge says with a chuckle. “She’s going through all this and is thinking about how I can help this person or that person. She’s great at her job, she is a warrior.”

Despite the daily battle against cancer, Officer Gatten continues to work to patrol and protect the city of Henderson.

“I just come in, do my shift, go home and be thankful I made it another day and we go from there,” Gatten says.

A group of friends planned a fundraiser to continue to show support to Gatten in her battle against colon cancer.

The fundraiser is Sunday, October 16, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Boucherie Winery in Spottsville, Kentucky.

The event includes live music by Dave Lutz, a live benefit auction, and Tacoholics food truck. 15% of Boucherie Winery sales will go to Officer Gatten.