story by Ryan Saylor
Patricia Brown has been handed her fair share of hard knocks. Not only a recurrence of breast cancer that has spread to her lungs and bones, but also a stage four diagnosis.
But instead of letting cancer get the best of her, Brown worked hard to take control of it and her story of inspiration through blog posts on The City Wire and speaking engagements in the Fort Smith and Northwest Arkansas areas. Brown recently stepped down from her job as chief operating officer of The City Wire to focus on her cancer fight and helping others learn more about how to fight cancer. She remains a partial owner of The City Wire.
Brown is now taking her motivational speeches to a national audience through a deal with an international pharmaceutical company, which has seen her speaking at conferences across the country. Additionally, she supports the work of the Advanced Breast Cancer Community, which was established to “bring much-needed awareness to advanced breast cancer and more attention to its community.”
"As long as I have a story and breath and can talk, I will tell. I will show and tell until I'm tired and that will be like… I will be in heaven by the time (that happens)."
One of the most recent published result of her work was a June 9 article on the SheKnows website about Brown’s cancer battle. The story focused on Brown’s goal of living to see her daughter, Amanda, get married. Amanda and Scott Whittenberg were married on March 8.
“Cancer can't steal joy,” Brown said in the SheKnows article. “My daughter and I don't do meltdowns well, so we focus on the blessings in life. I've been so blessed with family and experiences, and watching my daughter get married was icing on the cake.
TELLING THE STORY
The talks also have put a patient face with the work doctors and scientists are doing in their research and efforts toward finding a cure for cancer, Brown said, adding that her talks to various audiences about how to have "hard conversations" with doctors were just as important.
"Because so many of the drugs they have are new and progressive and you have a lot of the doctors who just want to do the same old traditional treatments and not take the chance. Because it is new and cutting edge."
She said there is also a lot of competition among the different pharmaceutical companies, making the work of to getting to doctors to prescribe potentially life-saving drugs even more vital than ever before.
Brown has experienced breakthrough pharmaceuticals herself, having initially had good success with a new cancer medication, which was shrinking many of her tumors until a recent set back when an MRI revealed tumors had spread to her brain, requiring her to have 15 radiation treatments. Once she gets past the brain set back, she looks forward to starting on a clinical trial treatment that will allow her to continue her work to battle breast cancer and who knows, even make history in the war against cancer.
But she said the setback is just that, a setback. Trying newer medications, hopefully having successes and sharing her story — both the joys and struggles — is what her life's mission has become and that is why she is taking her story to local and national audiences. "You can enjoy life as you manage cancer treatment."
"My speaking focuses on lifestyle, nutrition, exercise, emotions, spirituality, how to get a support team, how to tell people, who you tell, who you don't tell, when you tell when you're first newly diagnosed in stage four, and coping."
‘WE’RE ALL TERMINAL’
The story Brown tells is filled with humor, tears, truth and hope. She often gives the speeches wearing a camouflage dress because her goal is not just to tell her story, but to let people know that she is in the fight of her life.
But as she tells audiences of doctors, patients and whoever wishes to hear her story, "We're all terminal." And she knows that is more true now than ever before following her April brain MRI. Her doctors were frank. Her future is uncertain so she lives for today.
While doctors are starting to feel more hopeful about her prognosis following the chemo and radiation treatments, Brown said she has lived her life even before the last several weeks with purpose. In June 2012, she said she lifted up four prayers before dying — see her daughter get married to a Christian man that truly loved her, become an internationally known motivational speaker, write a book, be loved and know love.
Brown has been in a friendship with a widower of a breast cancer victim, someone she said truly understands the battle she faces. She has also taken her blog posts from The City Wire and turned them into a series of short stories for her first book, which is in the works. And of course, Brown is living life in her own way and charting a course that is unique and all her own.
While others fighting cancer may not have the emotional will to keep moving, Brown is looking forward to landing more motivational speaking engagements, as well as hopefully speaking at a national conference about her blogging since her second breast cancer diagnosis in 2012. And even though she's traveled a tough road and has more rough road ahead, her goal is to live life like no one else.
"Organizations and corporations are utilizing me because I want to be utilized," she said. "To throw it out there, to help as many people understand what this means. You know, we're all terminal. I worked for Make-A-Wish Foundation for 12 years, granted 2,000 wishes, raised (a lot) of money. I get it. I was at St. Jude frequently. So I know what cancer's all about and I also know that you can live life with cancer and live life abundantly. And we're all terminal and we just have to remember we have a purpose and we need to live life large and get to the point (where) you don't have too many regrets. I don't care if you have cancer or your just driving down the road (and get in an accident), you have to make your life count. Have purpose. So I have no regrets. I'm good here, Heaven, wherever."