Pink clothes, pink wristbands and pink food
Clinical social worker Catherine Patterson’s co-workers on Legacy Emanuel’s Neuro Trauma Intensive Care Unit surprised her by wearing pink clothes, pink wristbands and with a pink-themed potluck to support her during her treatment for an aggressive form of breast cancer.
“Catherine is a very important and special part of our team,” says Ashley Blatchley, R.N., manager of Legacy Emanuel’s Neuro Trauma Intensive Care Unit. “She takes care of the patients and families in NTICU and takes care of us as well; she shows a genuine compassion for people. Now it’s time for us to take care of her.”
Breast cancer found after a fall on her bike
It was a spill on her bike that led Catherine to a lump in her chest wall. “Me and my husband were bicycling last fall along a nature path when I made a sudden turn and fell,” says Catherine. “I told my husband I was okay to continue the ride.” She did but she fell again. This time Catherine, who helps the sickest patients and bereaved families, glanced at a child along the path who looked homeless and missed a turn. “Those two falls banged up my right shoulder and I thought I’d better get it checked out at urgent care.” While rubbing her aching shoulder and chest wall, she found a lump.
She was losing weight too fast
“I wasn’t too concerned because I do get mammograms,” says Catherine. “Nothing was there a year earlier.” She started to just watch it but thought about how fast she’d been losing weight from her weight loss program. “I thought I was dropping weight too fast. Then it hit me, the lump could be breast cancer.”
Patterson found out she had stage 1 HER2-positive breast cancer, which tends to be more aggressive. Even at this early stage, her recommended treatment plan involved chemotherapy and radiation.
“I’m feeling optimistic,” says Catherine. “I have an incredible team of physicians from my primary care to my surgeon; I have the best husband who rates 1,000 on a scale of 1 to 10 and my beautiful twin girls.” She credits the support of her “work family” too, which also includes Manager Tracy Neidether, R.N., and the Care Management team. Maybe that is why she has only missed a few days of work since beginning cancer treatment earlier this year.
“You don’t get to pick this journey but you get to decide how you go through it,” says Catherine. “Part of my journey is to not focus on myself but knowing there are so many things bigger than what I’m going through. My role is to serve and I’m going to be just fine.”
That is why nurses Andee Holman and Margie Hendryx, along with Nenette Olson secretly organized this event to celebrate and support a person who has given so much to others.
Media inquiries: Vicki Guinn, Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, 503-413-2939.