A community stands with Patty Bereswill
This summer, all 330 Hallsville little leaguers will be sporting pink ribbons on their jerseys. And earlier this year, the Hallsville High School girls basketball team wore pink shoelaces during a game.
Both times, the gestures were inspired by Patty Bereswill, a longtime supporter of Hallsville youth sports. As Patty fights a personal battle against breast cancer, the community she loves is standing right beside her.
“I don’t think of it as being just for me,” she said, modestly. “There are other people in Hallsville that have breast cancer. This is raising awareness and showing support.”
Patty’s breast cancer journey started in early January when she felt a golf ball-sized lump in her left breast, near her armpit, during a breast self exam.
A few days later, she showed the lump to her doctor, who was concerned. In a week, Patty was at Boone Hospital Center. Tests revealed Patty had stage-2 breast cancer that had spread to three lymph nodes in her left breast.
The news was a shock to Patty, 48, who has a husband, Larry, and two kids, Megan, 15; and Daniel, 13.
Theirs is a fun-loving, relaxed family that enjoys spending time outdoors, cheering for each other at sporting events and going to Mass together. Sharing such serious news with her kids would be tough. So Patty tried to make it nonchalant.
“Well kids,” she said one night as they lounged together in their living room, “Mom’s got a little breast cancer going on.”
Her kids immediately had questions. “You have cancer? Are you going to die? Are you going to lose your hair?”
She assured them she was going to be OK, but she would indeed lose her hair.
However, she wasn’t going to let cancer be the one to make her bald.
Working with Dr. Pamela Honeycutt, MD, Patty began the first of 16 chemo treatments on Jan. 31. After that first treatment, Patty and her daughter invited friends over and held a head-shaving party.
“We took pictures and laughed and there were no tears,” she said. “No tears whatsoever.”
The party exemplified Patty’s competitive attitude when it came to defeating her cancer.
“I have cancer but cancer doesn’t have me,” she said. “I’m going to conquer this, I’m going to beat this.”
Working with surgeon Dr. Jake Laks, MD, Patty has elected to have a double mastectomy in July. She hopes removing both breasts will reduce her odds of having a cancer reoccurrence later in life.
After her surgery to remove her breasts, she will undergo five weeks of radiation treatment and then reconstructive surgery with Dr. John Seaberg, MD. By the end of the year, she hopes to be done with cancer.
Throughout her cancer experience, Patty has been very open with anyone who wants to listen. She hopes her experience of catching cancer early inspires others in her community to be proactive about screening.
“The more people that know about my breast cancer, the more prayers I get, the more support I get,” she said. “And if I can just save one person’s life, if I could just get a word out there, it’s to do your breast self exams and get your mammograms.”