TWO RIVERS – When you consider the risk factors, Patsy Walesh wasn’t supposed to get breast cancer. She didn’t have a family history, she breastfed four healthy babies and even went through early menopause.
But in June of 2013, Patsy found a lump while doing a self-exam. And while she was surprised, she also felt a sense of gratitude that she had a good doctor who had coached her on the importance of self-exams, so she knew what to look for.
A tough journey
She ended up being diagnosed with stage 2B, and it had spread to several lymph nodes. She had multiple surgeries, including a lumpectomy and a partial mastectomy. In addition, she endured four months of chemotherapy and had radiation every day, for a total of 36 rounds.
She admits it wasn’t easy and that some days were just bad.
“I got kind of beat up in there,” she said.
Support all around
Patsy is so thankful for the care she received at the Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic in Two Rivers and the staff that treated and supported her.
“I have such high respect for the whole team. The nurses were excellent, so kind and caring and always lifting your spirits.”
In addition, her family was by her side the whole way – one person, in particular, quite literally.
“My brother-in-law, Blaine, was battling cancer for a second time and he was getting treatment right beside me,” explained Patsy.
She’s been in remission for three years now, which is significant for the type of cancer she had. It’s very aggressive and it likes to come back, quickly and with a vengeance. The return rate is typically within the first three years, so the fact that Patsy made it this long cancer-free is remarkable.
“This cancer is like a cheetah. It’s a sprinter, but it doesn’t have stamina for a long haul.”
After her treatment, Patsy knew she wanted to join the fight against cancer. She got her chance when the Lombardi Walk to Tackle Cancer came to Two Rivers last year. Not only did she help gather more than two dozen of her friends and family to walk, she also spoke at the event and volunteered to take pictures.
“When you’re diagnosed with cancer, you have a connection. It doesn’t go away when your cancer goes away. I know it can happen to anybody,” Patsy shared.
Volunteering is something that’s very important to her. She worked in a nursing home, where her job relied on people who donated their time. She believes she’ll be a volunteer herself one day.
“I have this mindset; I have to give back in some way. Once I’m retired and have more time available, I’ll go back and volunteer. No one should sit there alone if they don’t want to.”
Patsy’s family is inspired by her story too.
“My daughter is going to school to be a nurse. I know it’s part of her career path” she said. “Out of our darkest days, beautiful things can come.”
How you can help
Sign up for a Lombardi Walk to Tackle Cancer event near you. Money raised will support local cancer care and research initiatives by Aurora Cancer Care and is eligible for a 50 percent match from the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation.
All proceeds from the Lombardi Walk to Tackle Cancer will stay local. To see all walk locations and join the team, go to LombardiWalk.org.