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Faces of Blue: Pattie Ricciardi

By September 14, 2016Faces of Blue
Team photo from Boston race.

My name is Pattie and my journey began on May 19, 2014. I was 50 and I was going to have my baseline colonoscopy. I had occasional blood in my stool, but I was 50 and thought it must be hemorrhoids. Waking up to hear, “you have a mass and it needs to come out,” tilted my world on its axis. The next few days were a whirlwind. First and foremost my daughter was leaving on May 30 for her summer semester abroad to Florence, Italy, and NOTHING was going to derail her experience – not even cancer.

Survivor running race.

Pattie participating in Get Your Rear in Gear – Boston.

Over the next few days there were CT scans, lab work, doctor appointments with the gastroenterologist, surgeon, and oncologist. Telling the kids was horrible. Our son was stationed in Texas, serving our country in the U.S. Army. Having to make that call still makes me feel sick. Our daughter was very conflicted about leaving for her Italian adventure. It broke my heart she was no longer a 20-year-old college student traveling abroad. She was now the daughter of a mom with cancer. We just kept moving forward for her sake – packing, picking up Euros, and last minute manicures and pedicures!

I had my colectomy surgery on May 28 to remove the mass with surrounding lymph nodes. I was discharged in time to bring our daughter to the airport. Pathology reports came back with one positive lymph node, which put me at stage III colon cancer. I would need 12 rounds of chemo as a prevention, but at that time was told I was “essentially cancer free.” Four weeks to the day after my surgery I boarded a plane with my husband and met my daughter in Rome. My son was able to fly in and join us for an amazing vacation. Having this huge trip to look forward was absolutely healing for me. I was walking every day to prepare myself for all I would be doing in Italy.

Once back I had my port placed and began treatment. It was no picnic, but I had a completely amazing support system around me – family, friends, medical team, co-workers! I NEVER would of been able to get through it without them all. I will never forget it. My first Get Your Rear in Gear event was November 2014 in Boston. I created a team “Pattie’s Party Poopers” and walked it all the while attached to my 5-FU chemo pump!

It’s been 2+ years since my diagnosis, and of course it still seeps into my brain and plays with my emotions. I have a new meaning to “life is too short.” I laugh more, love more, don’t sweat the small stuff, try and eat right, and exercise. I truly feel blessed. All through treatment I would repeat “cancer picked the wrong body” and “accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.” I still run them through my head today, and tell any patients I take care of the same thing.

Thank God for screening.

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