When I first met Patricia in a cancer support group in 1998, I’ll admit that I thought she was a bit too “new-agey” for my liking. During our group discussions she wrapped herself in a hand-woven blue shawl (which just happened to match the color of her eyes) and talked about things like 'Divine Light Invocation' and 'Dream Yoga'. The most shocking thing about our most controversial support group member was that she had refused any traditional treatment (lymph node dissection, chemotherapy, radiation, etc), other than the surgery necessary to remove a lump from her breast.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that Patricia probably knew more about her cancer and the effects of traditional treatment than any of us. She had witnessed first hand the death of her mother at a young age and then the death of her sister only a few months before her own diagnosis, both from breast cancer. Patricia made a decision to follow her own path. While the majority of us obediently did what the doctors told us to do – and prayed – Patricia researched alternative treatments and sought advice from alternative practitioners.
I also didn't realize that, in addition to being one of the most informed cancer patients I've ever met, Patricia would become the rock that most of us would turn to, for her wisdom and the calming effect she has in the midst of turmoil. I recently interviewed Patricia about her experience with recurrence and when I checked my notes I saw that I had written down “cancer explorer”. I’m not sure if the words came from her or from me, but it accurately describes her approach to living with cancer.
I also didn’t know that I would learn so much from Patricia, and that what she taught me would influence how I approach my own cancer journey.
I also didn't know that I would grow to love her like a sister.
Click here to read about what I’ve learned and continue to learn from my ‘bosom buddy’ Patricia.
If you would like to read about other women living with cancer, click on "Cancer Heroes" below.