SEA-BAND HEROES Patrica
Patricia DiPaolo’s days are non-stop.
The mother of five children – ranging in age from 5-21 years-old – typically begins her day at 3 a.m. Before the household wakes up, she heads out in the darkness and goes to the gym for her daily workout. By 6 a.m. she’s back home, showered and waking her children to get ready for school. By 8 a.m.. Patricia is in her office at Alex & Ani, where she works in the finance department, often putting in a 50-70 hour work week.
“I just got so used to busy days,” she said. “I never had time to breathe. I forgot what it was like to take a break.”
Until she was forced to.
A month after turning 40, she was lying on her stomach while reading a story to her youngest daughter.
“I just felt something weird. I noticed a lump, but I wasn’t that concerned,” she said. “Ironically, I had my yearly appointment with my gynecologist that Monday, so I figured I would just tell her.”
By Monday, Patricia had found two additional lumps.
She underwent an ultrasound, biopsy and month’s worth of scans.
Then on March 17, 2017 – St. Patrick’s Day – she called her doctor. The news was devastating. Three words changed her life.
“She said “You have Cancer.’ I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I was the healthiest I had ever been in my life. I exercised daily and ate healthily. I just couldn’t believe it.”
Patricia remained positive..
“You have to immediately change your thought process from “How did this happen to me’ to ‘What do I need to do to fight this?’” she said.
And so Patricia’s fight began.
“I stayed positive. I had no other choice. When you have five kids, you keep going.”
Twenty weeks of chemo, a double mastectomy, radiation, more chemo and often many unpleasant side effects forced her to slow down – for the first time in her life.
“When I felt awful (from the treatment) I would hear the then four year-old’s voice coming from another room. It reminded me that had no other option than to fight. It’s hard.”
Surrounding yourself by people who support you is crucial.
“Just receiving a text that said ‘thinking of you’ the day you have treatment is comforting,” she said. “I was never religious, but knowing people were praying for me …I embraced that.”
After a year and a half battle, Patricia, 42, has now has been Cancer free for one month. She has not stopped fighting. Only now, she fights for others. Earlier this month, the entire DiPaolo family started a new tradition and participated in the annual Gloria Gemma 5k in Providence, RI. The event raises funds and awareness for the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation.
“My advice for everyone going through it is to let them know it’s okay to cry and be mad. But you have to believe you can get through this,” said Patricia. “Most importantly you have to believe there is a happy ending.”
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