The 2012 Elk County Relay for Life event held at the Fox Township Community Park this past Friday took time to honor loved ones who lost their battles with cancer, as well as celebrate the survivors like keynote speaker Patty Greene.
Greene, a lifelong resident of Elk County, was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 52.
In relating her story, Greene said her battle with cancer began in January 2010 when a routine mammogram revealed "something suspicious." Greene said doctors had detected a "little lump about the size of a pea."
Greene said following a battery of tests, her doctor determined a biopsy was needed on the growth.
While awaiting the results, Greene said that she was confident, saying, "I figured they were going to tell me it was a cyst-- no big deal."
When she finally received the results, the doctor apologetically told Greene she had atypical hyperplasia and that an additional, larger biopsy was needed. While awaiting the results of the second biopsy, Greene said she was for the first time consumed by a feeling of apprehension.
"I wait 10 days and that's when time seems to stand still. You pace the floor at night, you can't sleep, you can't eat, you can't think, you can't drink because that's what you worried about everyday," Greene said.
When Greene finally received the call from the doctor's office, she was told to come in immediately with her inquiries for further information about the test results being declined over the phone. Greene said she hung up the phone and began to cry.
Greene and her husband dashed through heavy snowfall to the hospital, where she was quickly ushered in upon arrival and told the words she had dreaded hearing.
"The doctor takes us right in. She doesn't waste any time and she says to me, 'Patty, your test came back and you have breast cancer.' Well, at that point in time, I didn't hear anything else she said. Her lips were moving, but I couldn't hear her-- I was gone. It felt like all the air had been sucked out of that room. I couldn't think, I couldn't breathe, I couldn't function," Greene said.
Greene said she was then taken to an MRI machine and that it was alone inside of the machine, alone with her thoughts, that she began to pray and her mind began to race.
"I lay there and as that machine's clanking around you, you think of all these crazy thoughts. 'What am I going to do? What is my family going to do? What happens if I die? What if this is a long, drawn-out process?' You think of every horrible, stupid thought -- 'I didn't pay the water bill' -- but you get through it and I got through it," Greene said.
Greene credits Dr. Howard D.J. Edington at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center as being the one who was able to put her mind at ease.
"The man just added so much calm and peace to us because he was telling us, 'This is what's going to happen, calm down,' and that's what I did -- I calmed down," Greene said.
After meeting with Dr. Edington, Greene was scheduled for her mastectomy.
After being told she had a four percent chance of contracting cancer in the other breast, Greene said she considered a bilateral mastectomy but ultimately decided to take her chances.
Pick up a copy of the Tuesday, June 12, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.