My name is Pat. I’m 68 years old and a native of Bentonville, AR. My parents, Francis & Hazel, had 11 children. There are 8 of us left. We are a close family and live within 40 minutes of each other. I’m so blessed! I’ve never faced a problem alone. In 2011, my life became quite a challenge. Without my family, my church and God I could not have survived. I’m the mother of two boys. They’ve always been the joy of my life. God truly blessed me with Tim and Kelly. In 2011, Kelly became very ill. It caused stress in his marriage and soon led to divorce. I became his caregiver. I enjoyed our time together. I went to his apartment 3-4 times a day – every day. As his health went down, Gary, my husband, and I asked him to move to our house. It was much easier for me. Things went very well.
In March, Gary went for a routine colonoscopy. They found cancer. He had to have some of his intestines removed. He was in the hospital 6 days. While he was there, Kelly was admitted to have a feeding tube put in. Dr Mark Rogers was their surgeon. He would be doing many more surgeries on our family in the months to come. Gary had a port put in and started chemo at Landmark Cancer on May 20th.
Kelly continued to lose weight. I weighed him every morning and was shocked every day as the numbers went down, a pound a day. Soon Hospice was called. It broke my heart. I turned down help from my family. I wanted to take care of my child myself. I treasured every day I had with him. He was always a momma’s boy! I sometimes felt Gary was pushed aside during his treatments. He never complained. I was able to take him for his first few chemo treatments. He was lucky they didn’t make him sick.
In July, I got a call to remind me of my mammogram. I have one every year. I cancelled because Kelly and Gary were both having a bad day. A few days later she called to say she had an opening, and asked if I wanted it. I took it. The next day I was called to say they found a problem. I called Dr. Rogers’ office and he sent me for a biopsy. The next afternoon a sweet lady called. “Mrs. Pat, I’m sorry to tell you, but you have breast cancer.”
I couldn’t believe it!! I called my son Tim and his wife Melissa, my family, my sisters and brothers-in-law and asked for prayers. Then I called my church. I had many, many people lifting me up in the name of Jesus. I never felt I would die! I had faith God was in control and he would see me through! The morning of July 13th, Gary left for his chemo, Tim and Melissa went with me to check Kelly into Hospice house and then take me to the hospital for surgery. Leaving Kelly was the hardest thing of all. He cried and it hurt so bad.
My cancer was called Medaplastic cancer, a rare form and very aggressive, without surgery and treatment, I had a 50/50 chance. I had a double mastectomy. I turned down radiation but took 6 months of chemo. Gary and I had our treatments on the same day. My first day I was nervous. It helped to see him by my side. Landmark said we were their first husband/wife team.
Things went smoother than you would have thought. Kelly came home and the hospice nurse came 3-4 times a week. Tim and Melissa came before and after work to help me with drain tubes. Tim came every day on his lunch to check on us and get anything I needed from the store. Gary and I went to Tulsa every Monday to check on his mother whom is 98! My sisters sat with Kelly while we were gone. Life went on.
Chemo is mean stuff. My first chemo they called “The Red Devil.” After my second treatment my hair started falling out. My nails started turning dark. My big toe nails had to be removed and I have bladder damage. I will always be on antibiotics. The good news is IT KILLED THE CANCER!!
God was with me every step of the way! I always felt His presence with me! I went to church every chance I got. Mary and Calvin (my sister and brother-in-law) picked me up for every service. I could not stand wearing a wig, so I didn’t wear one. The church people welcomed me with open arms. That’s God’s people for you. They didn’t care that I was bald. I can’t begin to tell you how my church and my family encouraged me. The Bible says “There is life or death in the power of your tongue.” We took it very serious and watched our mouth. Though I didn’t fear I would die, the devil would try putting doubt and fear in my mind when everyone else was sleeping. Thank GOD for his word! I would remember that the Bible said my healing has already been paid for – he took those stripes for me. That he has me under an umbrella of protection against disease. And I’m a child of the King. I could soon go to sleep.
God gave me the strength to take care of Kelly. Some days he took care of me. What a sight we were! The one that felt better was nurse for the day! It took all 3 of us, but we made it!
Kelly’s last few months were awful, once again. Without my God and my family I could not have made it. He could not eat at all. The feeding tube was taken out at his request. I cherish our last weeks when we talked for hours. Tim came every day for lunch and it thrilled me to see them together and the love they shared. We know our time was short and we tried to use it wisely. We talked of Heaven and he assured me he was ready. On Memorial day 2016, he passed away.
I’ve been cancer free for two years. God has blessed me with so many friends and family that help me everyday. As I write this, Gary is still fighting cancer. He is in stage 4 of Lung cancer. Once again, God and my family will help us through this!
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