My name is Patty Cox. In 1976, a doctor found three small lumps (cold nodules) on my neck near my thyroid. They operated and I didn't think too much more about it.
Then in 1984, I developed a small lump on the side of my neck which was biopsied and found to be cancer which had metastasized from my thyroid. When I woke up from surgery, my sister was waiting in my room and told me the news. I remember us both crying and a feeling of first fear, then, gradually as the few days wore on, I felt better.
Several people visited, I remember one lady in particular coming into my room and asking if I wanted to talk about my feelings and if I was afraid. Then it occurred to me that I was no different than I was before I found out I had cancer. I was still the same person. Yes, I was scared and worried, but still I was happy and excited about life and my future.
I guess somehow in my mind I had, maybe, developed a belief system that said if a person gets cancer, they are suddenly super sick and have a feeling of hopelessness. I guess the most important thing I learned is that we all have deep wells of inner strength and having things come up in our lives like cancer can and will only make you stronger. It definitely teaches one patience and a knowledge that there is always hope.
Later on, in 2000, I went to an eye doctor because of some strange flashing lights in my field of vision. I was sent to a specialist in Salt Lake City who said I had a melanoma on the back of my eye. I knew that melanoma meant cancer.
That was much more scary because of the thought that I could lose my sight in that eye. The doctor said that 15 years ago, they'd have just taken that eye out, but now the technology is such that they just use laser surgery to shrink it. He said I was two in a million that have such a problem.
That seemed very surprising to me. Then, I guess I did feel a little bit strange, but all in all, I'm a survivor. I've proved it twice now.
I was so grateful to Barb Moore for inviting me to be a survivor in the Relay for Life. I am an employee at the nursing home and was able to be on their team. It was wonderful. The team was so inspiring and we had so much fun. I've never walked with such determination.
I was deeply touched by the many stories that others shared. I was nervous at first and felt kind of out of place and didn't want to be in the spotlight. But when I was, all the special people who are out there in the world who share something similar to me, I realized we humans need never feel alone. We can be a great strength and support to each other.
I'm so grateful to my family and friends for all the support they gave me. It makes life so much nicer.
I'm so excited for the Relay for Life 2005. Hope to see you there. You'll love it.