02/06/04 — Relay chairman knows from experience

View Archive

Relay chairman knows from experience

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on February 6, 2004 2:02 PM

Patricia Warren is a three-year cancer survivor who has been through the physical and emotional horrors of the deadly disease.

Now, as honorary chairman of the Wayne County Unit of the American Cancer Society's 2004 Relay for Life, she's bringing the message of hope to others battling cancer.

Mrs. Warren was named honorary chairman at a kick-off celebration Thursday at St. Luke Church.

Terry Butler, one of the event's three co-chairmen, announced that this year's goal is $425,000.

She said the organizers would like to see 100 teams at the Relay, 375 corporate sponsors supporting the event, 5,000 luminarias around the Relay track and 5,000 purple bows throughout the county.

The 2004 Relay will be held May 14 and 15 at Eastern Wayne High School.

Mrs. Warren praised the volunteers for all they do to raise money for research for a cure for cancer. "Now people with cancer are living longer and are surviving, but we still need a cure," she said.

Mrs. Warren also spoke about her experience with breast cancer. When diagnosed, she was not afraid of dying, she said. "But I was terrified to leave my two small children behind."

When she first discovered a tiny lump in her breast no bigger than a pencil eraser, she thought nothing of it, but she went to her doctor anyway. He did some tests and felt it was nothing to be concerned about.

But Mrs. Warren's mother pushed her into getting a second opinion and that doctor did a biopsy and found she did indeed have cancer.

Part of Mrs. Warren's treatment was taking cancer medicine, which made her throw up constantly after only the first treatment. "I laid in bed thinking 'I can't do this again,'" she said.

Then the doctor started Mrs. Warren on another cancer drug. After the first treatment, she got sick. "During my cancer treatments, everything the doctor thought would not happen, happened," she said. "Everything that would normally happen to one in a million people, happened to me."

The doctors finally determined that all the cancer medicines Mrs. Warren had been taking had caused an electrical problem with her heart and told her she could not take any of it ever again.

"My cancer is now is God's hands," she said. "There is no medication out there that I can take anymore."

Mrs. Warren said the emotional side of the cancer was just as bad as the physical one. "The hardest thing for me to do was to tell my mom and daddy that I had cancer," she said.

"They lost their oldest son at 40 when he died suddenly in his sleep. Here I was 40 now and had cancer. My daddy is the strongest man I know and never cries. He cried more that first year that I had cancer."

When Mrs. Warren lost her hair while taking treatments, her father shaved his head and told her he would not grow his hair back until she grew hers back.

Mrs. Warren's children worried about their mother and kept asking her was she going to die. She said she prayed a lot with them.

"I had a lot of guilt dealing with watching my family suffer over me," she said.

Mrs. Warren said her father told her over and over that he wished he could take her place. "Right after I went into remission, my daddy was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus and died one year later," she said. "I feel like he did take my place."

She said even as a survivor, cancer patients still live with the constant fear that it may come back at any time. Any little pain makes them wonder if it is back.

Mrs. Warren said there are three things that have helped her -- the hope for a cure, the love she got from family and friends in this community and her faith in Christ. "With that you will survive cancer, whether it's in this world or the next," she concluded.