Area survivor taking part in Komen 3-Day event to make a difference

How to help

To Support Bates and donate to her Susan G. Komen 3-Day event in San Diego, visit: http://www.the3day.org/site/TR/2015/SanDiegoEvent2015?px=7571884&pg=personal&fr_id=1935

At just 31 years old, Patti Bates, who is now the city manager in Yellow Springs, found a lump in her breast. With no one else in her family or anyone she knew ever diagnosed with breast cancer, Bates, when diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990, was devastated.

“My mom’s older sister ended up being diagnosed at the same time,” Bates said. “But I didn’t know what to expect.”

But this lump, located on the left side, represented only the first cancer diagnosis of four that would afflict Bates over the next quarter century, turning her into a cancer “warrior” of sorts, taking her battle on the road to various Susan G. Komen events locally and across the nation.

“The first time I found my cancer as a lump myself and I had no risk factors,” Bates said. “I had four doctors say it was most likely not cancer. They couldn’t get a sample so I had to get the lump surgically removed at which point they did find cancer.”

Bates was fortunate that first time because tissue taken under her arms showed the cancer had not yet spread so the cancer was treated with a simple lumpectomy and radiation.

The second time she was diagnosed, in 1994, was on the opposite breast and the third time, in 2000, breast cancer was discovered again by chest x-ray.

“By this time, I was having annual mammograms and chest x-rays and they found the cancer had metastasized to my lungs so I had to have part of them removed,” Bates said. “I had six chemo treatments, which is a relatively low number.”

In 2012 Bates received her most recent diagnoses. Blood work showed that cancer was back on her left side and she had an increased level of antigens in her blood and this time, she opted for a double mastectomy and more chemo.

“I’m really lucky,” Bates said. “If you have to have it, you want to have it the way I did. My doctors left the mastectomy up to me because each time I had it, they said that the lumps are small but my chances of survival don’t increase. The fourth time I was done with it.”

Bates decided against reconstruction and continues to see her doctor every six months for chest x-rays and blood work.

“I started participating in one-day American Cancer Society “Making Strides” events in Cincinnati when I was first diagnosed,” Bates said. “I thought I wanted to do something to help raise awareness and my friend and I trained and went to Phoenix together.”

That friend, Lois McKnight, who lives in Milford, Ohio, has known Bates for more than 25 years. She said it was “an honor and a privilege” to walk with Bates in Arizona.

“It meant a lot,” McKnight said. “The fight was so personal and it was an honor to do that with her. The Komen organization did a really good job commemorating participants who were walking in honor of family and friends and it was a once in a lifetime experience.”

And Bates will be doing it again Nov. 20-22 during the Susan G. Komen 3-Day event in San Diego. She will join thousands of others over three days and 60 miles to support Susan G. Komen in the fight to end breast cancer.

“Part of the reason I’m doing this is to raise awareness for the cause,” Bates said.” Everyone knows someone who is affected by breast cancer.”

McKnight, who is unable to travel with Bates this go round, is still in awe of her friend’s unending ability to fight and her positive attitude.

“Certainly Patti was very brave and strong through all of it,” McKnight said. “That’s inspiring. She has always fought the good fight and when we did this walk five years ago, she was a 20-year cancer survivor and you think she has this beat and she is home free but over and over she was back again. But I can’t get over how she is just tough as nails and each time, she took it head on with such spirit. So I just want people to support her because it goes to such a good cause. And I hope through her efforts there will be a time when women won’t have to do this anymore.”

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