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Fallbrook mother who was 'just a breath away' from dying is helping others

'Just A Breath Away Foundation' now partners with Sharp's Arts for Healing Program.

FALLBROOK, Calif. — A Fallbrook woman who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury was just a breath away from dying. In this Zevely Zone, I found out how her new visions of magnificent colors are helping others. 

If you believe in miracles, this is one you should hear; a Fallbrook mom who had no artistic ability suddenly started creating incredible art.

Founders Kathleen Newhouse and her husband Galen established Just A Breath Away Foundation in 2017 to support TBI patients. In 2006, Kathleen Newhouse, a 53-year-old mother had a terrible headache. "It kept getting worse and worse," said Kathleen. "I was screaming so loud."

Credit: Just A Breath Away Foundation

An abscess ruptured in her brain, a medical emergency that doctors told her kills 90 people out of 100. A doctor whispered something to her, Kathleen will never forget. "He said honey you are just a breath away the other side," said Kathleen. Following lifesaving surgery, Kathleen could no longer speak, but for some reason felt like painting which was strange because before her brain injury she had no artistic ability. "I couldn't draw a stick figure," said Kathleen.  

Credit: Just A Breath Away Foundation

But after her coma, Kathleen started creating the bright colors of what she saw on the other side when she says she spoke to Jesus. "I said I want to come home and he said no you can't you are not finished yet you have something to do down there," said Kathleen.

In early 2007, Kathleen was given the opportunity to move to a physical rehabilitation center and decided to go to San Diego’s Sharp Allison deRose Rehabilitation Center at SMMC. 

In her recovery, Kathleen began having strange visions with magnificent colors. In an effort to release the overwhelming and brilliant images filling her mind, Kathleen began painting every day. "Every cent of every sale goes to another survivor's family," said Kathleen.

Credit: Just A Breath Away Foundation

The Just A Breath Away Foundation now partners with Sharp's Arts for Healing Program. "The brain is a miraculous thing that when shifted by an injury can do things that are totally surprising," said Amy Andrews who is the coordinator of Sharp HealthCare Foundation's Arts for Healing program.  

Kathleen's gifts help share music and art with the sick. In every piece she paints you'll see a circle which symbolizes how Kathleen's life has gone full circle from being a patient, to a painter, and now someone who helps those in need. "Yes, we are so grateful for her contributions and generosity, we are 100% funded by philanthropy so the contributions that she makes us able to do our work," said Amy.

Credit: Just A Breath Away Foundation

Since its founding in 2017, Just A Breath Away Foundation has donated 100% of the funds it raises to helping survivors of traumatic brain injury. To date, the foundation has contributed more than $50,000 to the Sharp HealthCare Foundation’s Arts for Healing program. Additional contributions to the program are planned for 2023.

“Engaging in creative expression and art making can positively shift our overall well-being and is a powerful vehicle for self-reflection” said Amy. “We are inspired by and deeply grateful to the Newhouse family for harvesting the gifts of Kathleen’s recovery in service of other individuals and families facing the impacts of TBI.”

Now, Kathleen and Galen are calling on the community to donate to their foundation to help bring hope and peace through therapeutic arts engagement to people hospitalized due to traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other catastrophic illnesses.

"I made a promise, and I don't break my promises, my word is true," said Kathleen. "That's all I am trying to do is help another, if I can help one then I've won.

After being a breath away from death, Kathleen Newhouse had brush with life. "When I go to bed at night, I think wow I had a good day this is a good day," said Kathleen.  


Donations can be made by purchasing artwork on Kathleen's Etsy store, as well as through the organization’s website at justabreathaway.org. All proceeds go directly to Just A Breath Away Foundation, which the organization will gift to Sharp HealthCare Foundation's Arts for Healing program. For more information click here.

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