Yeah, they’re fake. My real ones tried to kill me!
How do you stay grounded in the face of fear? What is the secret to getting through the hardships in life?
“Laugh at yourself and your bald head,” Patti Parsons would answer in her sweet southern tone.
Parsons was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 47. She had long brown hair. Instead of waiting for it to fall out, she shaved it and donated it. She wanted to share it with someone who needed it more.
“I had the Billy Ray Cyrus mullet, the Boo haircut from Orange is the New Black. If I can’t use this hair, someone else can,” Parsons said.
This woman is an inspiration. Cancer has been a battle she has fought once before. Her son had neuroblastoma, a very aggressive childhood cancer.
“This is nothing compared to what my son went through,” Patti said when asked what has kept her strong throughout the chemo process.
It is necessary to laugh through the difficult times. If you cannot find the good in life, it will drag you down. Parsons says it is a hard journey. She still works as an Educational Diagnostician She doesn’t want to be just a “sick person” so she tries to stay active. Her family and school have been incredibly supportive. They encourage her to stay positive.
“Cancer is going to take what it is going to take. It’s taken my hair, my boobs, my social life. But I can’t let it take everything. I still want to have fun. I still want to laugh. I still want to find joy in things,” said Parsons.
The path is a tough one. Parsons has been in chemo for 3 months. She has 3 more to go! She will then have 6 weeks of daily radiation treatments then 5-10 years of hormonal therapy after the chemo treatments have been completed. Nausea and hair loss are just a few of the many side effects of chemotherapy.
The way you consume food changes during chemotherapy. Your taste buds are tiny hairs and since the chemo makes you lose your hair, the taste buds react differently. Parsons used to drink black coffee with a tiny bit of cream. Now she likes coffee with a ton of cream! Water does not taste good and is very challenging to consume. Protein doesn’t taste very great to Parsons but she says protein and water are very important to include in her diet.
Self breast examinations are necessary. She got yearly mammograms and has been since the age of 40. Parsons’ breast cancer is called Lobular carcinoma and it often does not show up on mammograms. She found a lump in her left breast at the end of April 2015. It wasn’t until she went to a surgeon and the tumor appeared before her eyes. She had a double mastectomy in June.
She embraces every moment and is constantly looking on the bright side of life. During the day, Parsons wears her scarf in the classroom. She will take it off when she is alone because the scarf gets hot around her head! A colleague walked in and she laughed and said, “I know, it’s a bad haircut.”
“I think the power of a positive attitude is huge. The chemo has made me feel really horrible but it is not something that can’t be done. I have still be able to work and be a mom,” Parsons says.
“Once you’re 40, do your yearly mammograms and do your self breast examinations on a regular basis,” Parsons advises.
“The full treatment will probably be a year and a half and then the rest of the years are mine. And then I’ll be done. Get on to living,” Parsons exclaims!
Get on to living is right! Parsons has 3 more months of chemo to go. We know she is a fighter but help us find more research for breast cancer. Order your stitch today. October is breast cancer awareness month and we will be donating seven percent of our profits to Keep a Breast Foundation. We are still here, mending the world one stitch at a time!