A message from Pat’s son Greg, in honor of his mother:
My mother celebrated her 10th anniversary of remission on April 19, 2004. In honor of her courage and perseverance, I wanted to share some words about my mother and her story of survival.
So many people who have lost a loved one to breast cancer end up with regrettable feelings about never getting to tell that person about the impact they had on their life. As Mom celebrates her 10th year in remission, I want to tell her that I not only recognize but appreciate all that she has sacrificed and taught me about life. No regrets.
More than 10 years ago, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was frightened, but confident. I know now that for her, the fear must have been deep. No doubt watching her own mother lose a painful, drawn-out battle to leukemia did nothing to help her confidence levels about the “C” word. But, her sense of humor had her making jokes about how “this mastectomy will help save my back muscles from having to lug these boobs around any more.”
With never-ending sacrifice she assured my dad, brother, sister, and me that she’d be okay. She truly is a woman who has always put everyone else ahead of herself. There she was, lying in a hospital bed, facing (by far) the greatest challenge of her life, and she was thinking about how we felt. I can only guess that she was silently wondering if the mastectomy would be a success, how painful the recovery would be, whether the cancer had already spread elsewhere, and if it hadn’t, when, if, and where it would return to wreak havoc on her body. That type of courage has always impressed and inspired me.
From the time the eldest of us was born through today, when all of her children are grown, accomplished adults, she has led by example in showing us how to live with selfless honor. Mom has taught my brother, my sister, and me what the word “sacrifice” truly means and how it pertains to life’s priorities. Over the years, given the opportunity multiple times, she has never once wavered in her choice of family and her children over herself. Opportunities to go back to work when we were young children were shot down because our well-being came before any opportunity to have better material things. Having a family farm in the late ’70s/early ’80s as the main source of income was incentive enough to have supplemental income. But still, her sense of responsibility to raise children who would become contributing adults always won, hands down, over her wanting for tastier foods, fancier clothing, or a nicer car.
I want to let her know how powerful a message and lesson that has taught me. There’s a belief like this in many children who had solid upbringings, but to feel it every time I see her… that’s something unique to my mom.
I remember her quietly celebrating her fifth year of remission. But this time, five years later, I want to make sure it’s a little louder. So as we go into the 10th year of remission for Mom, I want to tell her how much I love her, how I appreciate all the sacrifices she made for me, and how grateful I am that she has kept a return of breast cancer at bay for 10 years now. I have no doubt that, 10 years from now, we’ll be celebrating again.
Congratulations and thank you, Mom! I’m eternally grateful to be able to say the words “She’s been in remission for 10 years” and not “She’s been gone for 10 years.” It means everything to me to be able to celebrate with you this year.