October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and, according to the Young Survivor Coalition, “each year, approximately 70,000 men and women age 15 to 39 are diagnosed with cancer in the US. Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in this age group.”
Patty Barclay went to UTSA and is a breast cancer survivor. She was 38 years old when her doctor found the lump that had been growing in her breast for about a year.
“I did not want to be pitied,” said Barclay. “I wanted to do as much as I could on my own.”
Barclay’s penchant for selfempowerment led her to and down the path to success.
“The best way to support the cancer patient is to validate their concerns.”
Though supporting your loved one in this way can be scary, you must always remember your role as a support-network member.
Still, according to the Young Survival Coalition’s “Caregiver’s Bill of Rights,” it is equally important to take care of yourself: “I have the right to take pride in what I’m doing. And I have the right to applaud the courage it has taken to meet the needs of my loved one.”
Throughout her fight with the cancer, she developed a set of skills which she has weaved into her life.
“Laugh; it truly is great medicine. I remember leaving an oncologist appointment and getting in my car. When I turned on the ignition, the radio was blaring a Nirvana song, “Heart-Shaped Box,” which was precisely at the line, ‘I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black.’ I busted out laughing and coughing at the same time. Fortunately, my friends laughed with me. I continue to laugh and live as much as possible.”
Barclay does a number of things besides laughing to keep her spirits and health intact. For her specific type of breast cancer, Barclay has found it best to avoid plant based estrogen, minimize red meat and reduce sugar consumption in order to limit the risks from obesity.
To keep healthy, Patty also adds exercise into her schedule.
“My favorite is BodyPump. I can’t run but I can use the elliptical for cardio and swimming feels great on my joints.”
It can also be helpful to join wellness groups. For Barclay, the group she connects with is called the S.L.E.W. Wellness Center in San Antonio.
“They offer supportive services that are not provided by insurance such as massage therapy, wigs, prosthesis, individual counseling and nutritional counseling. I am currently doing a fundraiser to support them. I love their philosophy and staff. They address the mind, body and spirit which has been proven to increase a patients’ perceived quality of life.”
Barclay is a “14-year breast cancer thriver” and has an amazing outlook on life. She is proof that a disease does not have to define you.