By Lori Leath Smith
“Being given a death diagnosis is like looking down a cocked, double barrel shotgun. But God is real and miracles do happen!”
~ Patricia Lee
If you aren’t one who believes in God or any higher power, please be forewarned. Patricia’s story could change your mind. Local resident and founder of the Destinites Facebook page and website, Patricia Lee, is a three-time cancer survivor of three different cancers; hence her becoming a recipient of the 2005 Life Inspiration Award for the American Cancer Society.
Her first cancer encounter was at the young age of 18 months. She had Neuroblastoma wrapped completely around her left kidney, a cancer common in young children for which there is still no cure. Her kidney was removed, but the cancer was discovered in the bone marrow throughout her body. When the only treatment in 1961, X-ray therapy, was administered, the cancer just kept growing. A young doctor at Birmingham Children’s Hospital recommended a new procedure, unavailable in the U.S. at that time, in hopes it would kill the cancer. The drawback? It would wipe out Patricia’s immune system and she could develop pneumonia. Since the cancer prognoses was certain death anyway, Patricia’s parents agreed to the surgery in a last-ditch effort to save her life.
But her maternal grandfather was on the move and rounded up a mighty praying group as well as several from his small-town Baptist church to pray for her. The day of the surgery, he persuaded the surgeon to recheck for the cancer. To appease him, the surgeon finally agreed to do more tests and X-rays. And what he found stunned him—the cancer was completely gone! No surgery was needed! During the next five years, not one trace of it was found. “If you are one who thinks prayer can’t change things, you might want to rethink that notion,” says Patricia. “Prayers do matter and, yes, they can change things.”
Her second bout came in 1994. During a partial hysterectomy surgery, a cancerous tumor was found, but was contained and completely removed. “No one knew the tumor was there until then AND when they found it, it looked to be breaking up into pieces disintegrating, as though it had been zapped by radiation,” says Patricia. The doctors and lab had never witnessed that before. “That’s the kind of thing you might see when someone has already been going through treatment,” said her doctor. “You got another miracle! People in the lab feel like they witnessed the hand of God in action.”
The third time was stage 3C breast cancer in 2005. Patricia had surgery and 15 lymph nodes (14 of them positive) were removed. “But the cancer had already broken through the cells and was running all through my blood stream,” says Patricia.
The day came when it was time to start chemo. “The night before, I had dug out a Bible I had as a teenager, all written in and verses highlighted,” Patricia says. “I had not looked at it in years, but did that night. And I prayed asking God to help me through it all. There I was with my eyes closed just trying to go to sleep when I felt this big jolt on my right clavicle.” A second jolt came at the base of her neck, and Patricia sensed God asking her to read her Bible again—out loud. She did and there on the pages were words of comfort, of healing, of protection.
“Bless the Lord who is my immovable Rock. He gives me strength and skill in battle. He is always kind and loving to me; He is my fortress, my tower of strength and safety, my deliverer. He stands before me as a shield.” – Psalms 144. “A rush of peace came over me like I have never before experienced…I was told I would maybe live a couple of more years, but that was 15 years ago (2005)!”
Many would be daunted to experience this trial a third time. But, Patricia says she was able to keep her morale high due to faith in God’s decision for her life no matter what that meant. “I just focused on my daily routine and responsibilities and let Him carry the burden. Listening to music I love and watching TV/movie comedies were also great uplifters for me. I truly stayed focused on the here and now and took one day at a time while going through treatment.”
Patricia’s advice for those going through similar situations? “Let friends and family help you, even if you don’t need it. Understand that they are affected as well. They love you and feel helpless. So, don’t push them away. Just say, ‘Thank you!’”
“By the same token, if you’re a caregiver, don’t overwhelm the patient,” she says. “Don’t try to take over their lives by telling them what they should or should not be doing. Be supportive, but not a dictator. It’s important for them to carry on their day-to-day lives as normal as possible.”
You can read about Patricia’s experiences in detail at Destinites.com. Her hope is that her experiences and overcoming them will help others. To reach Patricia, contact her through the Contact Us page at Destinites.com.