Patterson is volunteer of the month

Published 11:13 am Wednesday, April 18, 2018

She is a nurse, a cancer survivor and The Clanton Advertiser’s volunteer of the month: Patti Patterson has quite a story.

Besides dedicating her full work week to the Clinical Excellence Department at St. Vincent’s Chilton, Patterson invests an additional eight hours on average each week as the hospital’s Relay For Life team captain and as a member on the Event Leadership Team.

“It’s above and beyond and it’s community service,” Patterson said. “This has been a very big commitment, but I wouldn’t do it any different than what I’ve done at all, because it has meant so much to me.”

This is Patterson’s first year to be involved in Relay For Life, and her investment in the event is rooted in her personal battle with breast cancer.

Patterson was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer in October of 2016, about five months after a mammogram.

“Had I waited, I would have been terminal,” she said, emphasizing her advocacy for routine preventative cancer care.

Several obstacles slowed her treatment process, but after a full year wrought with chemotherapy and radiation treatments — and the tedious car trips to and from Birmingham and Alabaster medical centers — she was officially declared cancer-free in November 2017.

She had won.

She credits much of her victory to her husband’s and children’s support throughout her illness.

“I can tell you that if it had not been for them, I probably would not have been here today,” she said.

Patterson said she must continue visits with the oncologist every three to four months for the next two years. If she encounters no further issues with the illness, she will be released for no further examinations.

Strengthened by her experience, Patterson now bears a torch of hope for anyone and everyone she can help impact through Relay For Life.

“It’s been a team effort,” she said.

Since the official kickoff of Relay For Life season, the hospital has sold T-shirts and luminarias, made luminaria cards, hosted a bake sale and silent auction and stationed a Memorial and Remembrance Tree dangling purple hearts in the lobby.

“People here at the hospital have gone above and beyond,” Patterson said. “They’ve given.”

She said many hospital staff have had their own encounters with cancer.

“They’ve been down the same road that you’ve been down, and they’ve had family members that have gone down that same road.”

Patterson said that to fuel its competition for relaying against cancer, the team set “a pretty lofty” fundraising goal for Relay For Life.

“We set a $5,000 goal, and … we’ve raised over $3,800,” Patterson said in early April. “So, I’m really proud. I don’t think that’s been too bad for the first year at all.”

Patterson said her experience with cancer greatly resembled her current stance against it and her determination to strive toward an ultimate cure through Relay For Life.
She shared an analogy presented by Jeannie Smith of the American Cancer Society.

“It’s like you’re in a race … as long as cancer’s out there and we do not have a cure, we will continue to race and relay for it,” she said.