Cancer survivor determined to share importance of early detection via self-examination and mammograms
By Patricia O. Pattillo
“Breast Cancer can be a wake-up call. Time to get the things done on your bucket list. Time to bring life. Time to celebrate life.”
Anyone who knows Pat Williams, affectionately known as the “Pie Lady,” knows she loves to bake, she loves to travel, she loves to look good, and she loves to make people happy.
Known for baking sweet potato pies for family and friends and wishing many a good day, Pat is celebrating her 72nd birthday next week, and her seventh year as a breast cancer survivor, in February.
An annual mammogram devotee, she was not shocked when after a prayer telephonic meeting she felt a lump.
“I was propped up on pillows, and that awkward position forced me to move pillows to sit up straight. Thankfully as I repositioned, I felt it,” Pat shared.
A former pharmaceutical sales rep, Pat understood many medical terms and, most importantly, she believed she would come through the new challenge.
After an appointment with her primary care doctor, who confirmed the lump should be examined by a MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan immediately, which led to a visit with an oncologist, who referred her to a surgeon. They all agreed total mastectomies was the recommended strategy for recovery.
Pat said she told the doctors, “you get one chance. I won’t be a guinea pig.” Her biggest worry just months before this discovery was insurance coverage as her cobra protection had lapsed after her company downsized and she, like thousands of other reps throughout the nation, was suddenly unemployed.
Luckily on her 65th birthday just months before, made the surgery, plus12 rounds of chemo and 40 rounds of radiation, Medicare compliant. Too often, lack of money and fear of the cost for competent care lead women to postpone mammograms and doctors’ visits.
Neighborhood clinics, the Milwaukee Health Department and free outreach activities can be invaluable in finding additional resources and events that are available, however.
So never ignore appointments nor deny yourself good breast health.
Ask, watch MCJ for listings. Pat quickly added: “ I had the fortitude to ask a lot of questions.” She had visited Isaac Coggs Health Services during that interim period between coverages. “You have to be the best advocate for your health,” she reminded.
A strong woman of faith, Pat continued: “God has given me an extended warranty. He wants me to put a smile on somebody’s face. He does not expect us to look sad, nor pitiful or like I don’t care, for I do.
“I’ve used this time as an opportunity to bring a smile to a few faces. I love to see people enjoy my pies, for each is made with love…love of God and the grace He has given me in my quality of life.
“I love to make people feel good and I like to look like I feel good, so I try to look like I’m going someplace everyday.
“Not of vanity, but as an example of how beautiful we really are. God gives life and love and beauty and hope.” And Pat gives that every day to others.
Happy Birthday, Pat Williams! May you be blessed and may you continue to openly share the good news as you remain positive and hopeful and vigilant!