Books and music have always taken center stage in Katy Tessman’s life. Using the wisdom she’s gained through breast cancer survival, heartbreak, and motherhood, Katy is an optimistic writer who aims to spread hope and joy.
After her first mammogram, in 2009, Katy Tessman was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39. She had a double mastectomy on her fortieth birthday, endured chemotherapy, and underwent reconstruction surgeries. Katy's sons, Louis and Maxwell were only ages 6 and 3 at the time of her diagnosis. The family's love of nature helped Louis and Maxwell understand the changes going on with their mother's body. She authored the award-winning children’s book about breast cancer, "Our Mama is a Beautiful Garden," and was named CHANGEMAKER by the Minnesota Women’s Press. A decade after her cancer diagnosis, Katy wrote a song that sums up the everyday-hero’s journey and published the accompanying lyric picture book, “Hero Now Crowned.”
Combining her love of writing and performing, Katy earned a BA in Speech Communication from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. As a singer-songwriter, Katy performs on stages throughout Minnesota and around the region. Her two sons are also talented musicians and there’s always some kind of music pouring out of the Tessman home in Minnetonka, Minnesota.
Katy is available for book readings and motivational speaking events; as an author, she aims to help families find strength, courage, and optimism.
- In 2011, Katy was a model for Of Scars, a photo project that explores all the facets of living with the emotional and physical scars of breast cancer.
- The Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis honored Louis and Maxwell in 2011, naming them Young Heroes, recognizing how they faced their mama's breast cancer with the courage only a true-to-life hero has.
- In 2012, Katy was the cover girl in Patterson Dental's "Grins for a Good Cause" annual giving program.
- Katy and her sons are featured in the 2013 Hope Chest for Breast Cancer Foundation's calendar.
- Artist, Barbara Porwit created a larger-than-life painting of Katy as Wonder Woman for her Breast Cancer Superheroes portrait series in 2013.
- In October 2022, to celebrate her 13th year of being cancer-free, Katy and her band performed at the 318 Cafe in Excelsior. The funds raised from ticket sales, along with donations received via social media fundraiser, Katy meet her goal of $1000. In addition, 10 donation copies of her book were purchased. Pictured are Katy Tessman with Jim Thurbis at the Angle Foundation headquarters in Mendota Heights.
Grief and loss is topic that is difficult to talk about with children. How do you explain death and dying to your young child? This is a contemporary problem that is relevant to children, as well as young adults of today. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, my sons were 3 and 6 years old. I struggled finding an age appropriate book I could read to them. I decided to explain what was going to happen to me in my own way and it helped them stay positive throughout the journey. I self-published our family’s story to help others get through the awful battle of fighting cancer. Since then, there have been a variety of books published to help kids sort through the emotions of loss. Grief can be quite dark and cold, no matter the season. Following is a list of realistic fiction books I have curated for children on this topic." ~ KT
Katy recommends these inspiring books to read to young children during hard times: