The first time I met Patricia Butler was in 2007, a few months before her son and I went to prom. I couldn’t tell at the time, but she had recently undergone a mastectomy and begun chemotherapy to treat breast cancer. She was one of the most beautiful women I had ever met, with beautiful radiant skin and smile that could melt through ice. She wasn’t at all the way you see breast cancer patients on TV or movies. Her spirits were always so high that it made you completely look past the fact that she was battling a life threatening disease.
On round one, she won that fight. Talk about invincible! For the next six years I got to know her better. Sunday dinners, holidays, birthdays, even a few horrible snow storms were spent at her house. I began to love this woman as if she were my own mother. I always imagined the day that I would marry her son gain the privilege of calling her mom.
In 2011 her cancer had returned. This time it had metastasized into her lungs. Just as before, her spirits remained high and her skin still had the glow of an angel. In my eyes she remained invincible! The following year she remained strong and a month after her 62nd birthday, preparations began for her retirement party. But this would also be a celebration for her life. We, her support system, would see her win a second battle with great victory. I was sure of that…
A little over two months ago, her son and I rushed her to the hospital because her mobility began to decline. Initially we assumed it was a side effect of her medication. She was admitted, and after several hours in the emergency room we learned the complete opposite. What had begun as cancer in her left breast and spread into her right lung had now spread into her brain and spine. The doctors were giving her two months at best to live.
They have to be lying. This is impossible! Don’t they know this woman is invincible?! Is someone playing a trick on me? I have so much to learn from this woman… this can’t be! These were all of the thoughts that ran through my mind in that moment. I felt like the walls were closing in on me. And I began to remember why I hated hospitals so much.
She was released from the hospital and as promised I remained close by to take care of her. I still had time to spend with her, to learn from her, and to laugh with her. Even after being told that her life was going to be cut short, she still kept her amazing sense of humor. It was then I learned that she has begun to secretly plan a wedding for her son and myself. She confessed to already having set a date, chosen music, a gown, the whole nine yards. It was a moment of joy and heart break when the realization hit me that she would not be there to witness such a special moment.
I have lost many family members to cancer. But nothing compares to the way I watched this beautiful angel wither away. I kept wishing, hoping, and praying that there was something I could do to stop the progression of this vile disease. Sixty-two and newly retired was too soon for her to go. She had so much to live for.
On September 14, 2012 I watched her take her last breath. The only comfort I have is that she is no longer in pain and that I, along with so many others, got to be there in her time of need and saw her through her darkest hour.
Unfortunately, this is not a once in a life time experience. There are so many others that feel the pain and experience the same tragedy that I have. Fashion for the Cure embodies two things that are near and dear to my heart. The Speed Sisters have pushed through the pain of their loss and created this organization in support of others. If you or someone you know detests the existence of breast cancer as much as I do, join us on October 6, 2012 (visit MzMahoganyChic.com/Cure2012 for more details) to celebrate the lives of those lost, and to support the lives of those fighting.