My Story – Catrina Simbe, Founder

My Story


Losing my husband at the age of 47 to terminal stomach cancer was devastating.  Losing my 6 year old son 39 days later to brain cancer, changed the course of my life forever.
My name is Catrina Simbe and I created Tyler’s Grace Foundation immediately after living through the devastating loss of the two most significant people in my life - my husband and my son. 

Having experienced suffering at that degree is more painful than what I imagined any human being could live through.  I admit, this has put my faith to the test, but it is the cross I will carry throughout the duration of my life.  My family and I will always have the scars of these deep wounds.  Yet, with each wound comes healing and I have found God’s purpose for me on the other side of the immeasurable, dark seas of grief.
I created Tyler’s Grace Foundation for families to find a path to hope in life’s darkest moments.  Channeling my pain in an effort to help others, was the birth of our mission. Throughout our journey my family has been blessed with many beautiful moments that will remain as deep imprints on my heart during the time I had with my boys.  
It is now my life’s goal to give this gift to other families.  I encourage you to get to know my boys through their stories and the families we support through Tyler’s Grace.
I share my story, my sorrow and personal experience openly so that my past pain can be of hope to others facing the destruction of cancer.
Uncharted paths await me as I continue to try and navigate through this new life.  The gift of Robert and Tyler's lives will remain impressed on my heart forever.  Our foundation was born through their loss, but also their inspiring life.  May it be a blessing to all our recipients and the families we serve.
Catrina Simbe
Founder and Executive Director

Tyler's Story

Tyler Simbe

NOVEMBER 23, 2006 – APRIL 5, 2013

“7 minutes, 32 seconds!” Robert yelled from the office upstairs. It was 6:00am Thanksgiving morning and after 5 hours of contractions they were still over 7 minutes apart. Against the nurses advice, we decided to head into the hospital. Robert held my hand as we walked in and both smiled nervously at one another, Tyler was on his way. I remember feeling calm as everything around me moved so quickly. Soon I would meet my son and life as I knew it, would be changed forever. In true Tyler style he made the delivery easy on me, no complications. Robert beamed with pride as he called all of our family and friends to welcome Tyler Dylan Simbe into the world.  As I sat in my hospital bed eating Thanksgiving dinner, I felt like the most thankful person alive that day. The first 6 months of his life raced by and before we knew it, Robert and I were back to work.  It was at that same time, Tyler’s best friend, Auntie Crystal came into the picture as his full time care taker.

No words will ever truly describe the spirit of our son. He was always smiling no matter what the circumstances and all day long you could hear him giggle. We all knew he was not your average child because before he celebrated his second birthday, he could already tell you the Capital of California, knew Obama was our President and could count to 10 in Ilokano, Spanish and English. Above his intellect, he had the unique ability to make everyone he met feel incredibly loved. He communicated his love through his eyes, it was in his smile and the very essence of his spirit, you could feel love radiating from him. I should have known then he was an Angel.

Just before his sister Samantha was born, Tyler started pre-school. I remember my sister Crystal and I crying from a corner of the playground as we watched him get acclimated. The kids loved Tyler and he made friends very easily. It was always an ordeal picking him up because everyone wanted to hug him and say goodbye. He acknowledged them with a shy smile and a quick wave of his hand. Once his sister Sammie arrived he immediately stepped into his role as a big brother. On the way home from the hospital he reached over and grabbed her hand. He held it the whole ride home. It was Tyler who taught Sammie how to laugh and smile. He always said it was his job to take care of her and he did.

Robert and I often said we had the perfect life. Our weekend trips to Costco and going to the park with the kids were in our eyes, the best life could get. We never wanted or needed anything more than what we had. We were blessed.

It was just after his 4th birthday when we learned that Tyler had a brain tumor. Our perfect world came to a standstill and life changed forever.  The following two and a half years were filled with surgeries, doctor appointments and MRIs. That said, they were also filled with some of the best memories of my life. Watching my son’s resilience, energy and his love for all of his family, friends and medical staff who took care of him was overwhelming. He lived life to the fullest with a plan to have fun every single day. He expressed himself through his art projects and surrounded himself with stuffed animals, all of whom he personally named. He said he wanted to be an artist when he grew up with a small area in his studio where he would sell custom made stuffed animals. He was a party planner and felt that the most ordinary days, could be made extraordinary. One of the last parties he threw was on Valentine’s Day. Tyler said it was a “Just because I love you party”. He drew and cut 30 little hearts he taped all over the house along with a poster that had a picture of him smiling and saying, I love you. After his father Robert was diagnosed with cancer, he planned a party for his dad every time he came home from the hospital. All the while, Tyler was fighting a battle of his own.

Tyler changed my life. He showed me the magic and the beauty within the most unexpected things. He filled me with strength just by holding my hand. He gave me and so many others a sense of purpose and a calm no matter what obstacles we were battling. In the 6 1/2 years he was on this earth, he gave me more joy than most people will experience in their lifetime. I will live every day remembering his smell, his laugh and his embrace. I know he lives on through his sister and I pray she will always remember her brother and how he molded her into the wonderful woman she will become. I also hope that we all have an opportunity to see the world through Tyler’s eyes. A place where there is love beyond what words can describe.

I love you forever my little Angel. Thank you for the gift of your love.

Robert's Story

Robert Simbe

JULY 1, 1966 ~ FEBRUARY 25, 2013

Robert Simbe was my husband of 12 years. He is the father to my two beautiful children, Tyler and Samantha Simbe. He is a son, a brother and a best friend. He was a mentor and an inspiration. And he was a diehard bay area sports fan!

I will never forget the day Robert and I learned that not only were we fighting for our son’s life against cancer, we just stepped into a minefield for his life against it as well. I remember walking into the room where he had just been given the news. He was speechless. I started shouting, asking someone to tell me what was going on. I was quickly becoming unglued and as my heart was pounding out of my chest, I was growing more anxious as I screamed for a doctor. He had an aggressive form of stomach cancer and we were already at stage 4. I was overwhelmed and consumed by an ocean of grief.  We were now fighting to save a family, not just a member.


Robert was the protector of his family. But he couldn’t protect us from cancer. No one can. He couldn’t save himself or our son from the immeasurable pain cancer inflicts on a family and in our case, wins. Cancer fought and Rob fought harder. He didn’t want to die and he wasn’t going to accept that fate lightly or give up hope willingly. Robert showed cancer it wasn’t going to take him lying down. So, it took him fighting to his last breath. I am a fighter, because Robert died fighting. The strength and courage he demonstrated throughout his life and in his last months, was an inspiration to all that knew him.

Robert’s story has been written and fulfilled. It is through the Tyler’s Grace Foundation, Robert’s footprint will continue to live.