By Mike Lee, Staff Writer
The last 10 years have been packed with life’s worst and best for Katrina Bright Cochran, Ph. D.
She’s fought Cancer twice.
She’s nearly lost her faith and turned around to find it stronger than ever.
In the meantime she’s found the love of her life – someone who finally values her for the person she is and the person she’s becoming.
And most recently, Katrina Cochran was blown away when she heard her name called as the 2015 Ms. Senior America Oklahoma winner.
“That was an absolutely huge and wonderful surprise,” Cochran said. “I was just blown away. I’m a very spiritually-based person and use a lot of spiritual language and in all reality the entire process was part of a divine plan of God.”
Looking back, Cochran admits seeing the hand of God during her life. She’s grown to realize that she has purpose beyond what she imagined.
Cochran accepted her crown as hundreds looked on at the Rose State Performing Arts Center earlier this summer.
It was a mix of emotions but gratitude was a big one. She saw it as yet another calling, and this one excited her.
Thryroid Cancer came calling in 2008. Breast Cancer found her in 2013.
Complications with Breast Cancer landed her in the hospital after her immune system was so compromised that bronchitis handed off to pneumonia.
With an oxygen saturation hovering around 85 percent her body was slowly being starved of air in January 2014.
“CJ Judd was the respiratory therapist on call that night,” Cochran remembers. “She came into the room and stood by my bed and worked on keeping me breathing and alive until four in the morning.”
Cue the divine intervention because Judd has directed the Ms. Senior America Oklahoma Pageant the past few years. She specializes in finding amazing women in the community and then convincing them to share their wisdom and inner beauty with the rest of the world.
“You’ve got to be part of our pageant and tell your story,’” Cochran remembered Judd saying. “I said to myself ‘how can I say No to someone who just saved my life.’”
So Cochran signed up for the pageant in 2014.
A severe reaction to surgery landed her in the hospital again on the eve of the pageant. Emergency surgery to stop a MRSA infection was the cause this time.
Cochran has been in the medical field with Mercy Health since 1988 when she joined as a clinical psychologist. She has stayed in private practice within the Mercy complex until today.
“I could have died twice in 2014,” Cochran said.“I decided God is not ready to call me home yet and he still has a plan for my life and I still have things to do.”
Plans with husband, Norman, whom she married nearly 12 years ago.
“He has just been incredibly supportive,” Cochran said. “He is truly my lifemate. It took me 55 years to grow up and mature enough to understand what it meant to be a wife. He is absolutely my rock and foundation.”
As a child of the 1940s, Cochran said the career path laid out for her by society was one of housewife. Getting a Ph. D and becoming the first woman to ever hold a hospital chair in her field was not a norm.
“Most of the men that were born in the 1940s found my professional and financial success pretty threatening,” she said. “My husband is a musician. He knows what it means to have a gig. He’s proud of me and says he feels enhanced.
“I was sold on that one.”
A partnership with the Salvation Army will keep her involved in the group’s women’s ministry will keep her in front of senior women at the organization’s meetings.
She’s consulted with the group for the past 12 years.
On a professional level, Cochran is in the middle of closing her practice which she hopes to have done by November 30.
Goal setting and living in the moment will be Cochran’s message as she travels the state this year to fulfill her duties.
The UCO graduate will be at the UCO Homecoming parade later this fall. Before that she will counsel parents of incoming UCO students.
And as she sees it, it’s all part of a great big plan that she’s learned to hang on to.