Patricia Parkins' story or survival
Patricia Parkins (Photo by Andre Rowe / October 17, 2012)
During this time, I went to Italy. It was there I realized I had a serious problem. I returned to Jamaica and underwent a repeat mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. I knew something was seriously wrong. I returned to my primary physician that afternoon and told him, “I’ve come here to cry.” He said, “I know.” I went to pieces. I had to have a left breast mastectomy.
After surgery, there was a course of chemotherapy and because I was HER2+, I was treated with Herceptin for one year. I also underwent radiation. My lowest point was when I first visited Broward Health Coral Springs in 2010 to attend the support group meeting, A New Beginning, led by a fabulous lady, Lynn Benjamin. I looked like a street person, had no hair, wore a wool cap and looked ragged at best. By the end of the meeting, they had me laughing; I had them laughing.
I come from a large family, and they were all so supportive. My sister helped me emotionally and financially, and encouraged me to get out of the house. She even re-did my bedroom and living room so I would feel better. My brothers stayed in touch via phone, emails and cards, and my son told me it wasn’t the end of the world; I could fight this, but I needed an open mind. He said it was a marathon, not a sprint. My cousins stayed with me after chemotherapy, and my best friend, Carol, cooked meals every day for me.
Keeping up my sprits was difficult, but I tried to think about others who were victims. I called the Breast Cancer Network of Strength every day for support. I also became a member of Gilda’s Club South Florida and met many wonderful ladies who helped guide me.
I’ve been a cancer survivor for more than three years, and encourage women to watch their bodies and get checkups, eat properly, exercise, and seek support when needed. Someone told me, “live your dash well.” That’s my credo. Live life to its fullest.