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Interview with Patty Bateson - Mom, Oncology Nurse, Breast Cancer Survivor and Holistic Adviser

Today, as promised, we’re bringing you an exclusive interview with Patty Bateson, an oncology nurse from Andover, Massachusetts, who is also a breast cancer survivor and mom to three beautiful children: Colleen (26), Erin (25), and Patrick (22).

I first met Patty at the Weekend of Hope in Stowe, Vermont, where Patty took one of my courses on “Writing to Publish.” Since then, she has gone on to publish her work in several cancer magazines, including “Coping with Cancer” (March 2008). Patty lives life to the fullest and has learned the importance of taking care of herself: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I had the privilege of meeting Patty’s daughters in 2007, and I have to say they emulate their mom’s zest for life and contagious sense of humor.

Be sure to visit Patty’s website “Healing Journey” to learn more about the holistic methods Patty used in treatment. She is available for private appointments, workshops, and classes.

Connie: What led you into the career choice of being an oncology nurse?

Patty: I desired to be a nurse since I was a little girl. I was known for "fixing up" my stuffed animals with Band-Aids and bandages. I loved helping them heal!

I first worked with oncology patients on an inpatient medical unit which specialized in oncology. I found these patients to be very special people. I was amazed by their courage, strength, faith, and their will to live. They so inspired me that when an outpatient clinic opened for cancer patients, I was honored to accept this position. I knew in my heart this was part of my spiritual path. Little did I know, at the time, where it would lead me.

Connie: How long have you been working in the oncology field and tell us what is your favorite part of the job?

Patty: I have been in my present position for eight years. My favorite part of the job is giving hugs, shaking hands, and getting to know my patients and their caregivers. You truly become part of their family—so to speak— while they go through their treatments. You realize what an integral role you play in their health and recovery. It is so very rewarding and humbling too.

Connie: Not only are you an oncology nurse, you are a breast cancer survivor as well. Tell us about the day you received the diagnosis.

Patty: I was initially in shock when I received the phone call from my surgeon telling me I had breast cancer. It was a very surreal experience. After a few minutes alone to compose myself, I gathered my daughters, ages 19 and 21, at the time, and sat them down. I shared my news and we cried and hugged together. I told them we had a challenge ahead, but that we would get through this as a family with our love and support for one another. My husband and son were called at work to come home immediately. Again, we held each other and allowed the tears to flow which was a necessary part of our healing and then I went into "action" mode to develop a plan for my treatment.

Connie: How has breast cancer changed your life for the better?

Patty: Cancer has—without a doubt—changed my life for the better. I love "ME," and take care of myself first and foremost! I play, have fun, and honor the beautiful being that I am. I was blessed to receive so much love and support from so many that I am eternally grateful to the human race. There is so much kindness in the world.

Cancer taught me not to sweat the little things anymore. It has allowed me to "live in the moment," and to cherish every minute of my life. I have learned that abundance is not in the physical stuff, but in the tender moments when you connect heart to heart with another human being. Love is the greatest gift on the planet. It heals on a soul level.

Connie: What’s a typical day like for you?

As an oncology nurse my role is to start a patient’s intravenous line and then mix and administer their specifically ordered chemotherapy. I teach them about their drugs and possible side effects and listen to their challenges and triumphs.

When my patients first hear that I, too, am a survivor, I sense their anxiety dissipate to some degree as they realize there is indeed life after a diagnosis. There is so much HOPE. I treat patients with compassion and love. I talk less and listen more. I hug a lot and hand out tissues freely. "Tears cleanse the soul,” I say to my patients. I tell them, "It’s okay…you are not alone and 'I understand,'" as I gently touch their shoulder or hold their hand.

My hope is that my story of survivorship will inspire, encourage, and uplift my cancer patients. I have "walked the walk" and can now "talk the talk". I have been where they have been and have come out on the other side more whole and complete. I am a better human being for having gone through this experience.

Connie: What’s the best advice you can give a mom going through the cancer journey?

Patty: The best advice I can give to moms going through their breast cancer journey is to begin to nurture yourself today. Do not wait another minute. Love yourself and tell yourself this daily. Feed your body with healthy foods, exercise, and tend to your mind and spirit too. Let friends and family help you by cooking, cleaning and driving your children to school and activities. Allow yourself the rest that you so deserve and listen to your body as it will tell you exactly what it needs. Honor your body, your precious temple, for you are only as good to others as you are to yourself. You are worthy of it all, so please make yourself a priority. Believe me—your husband and children will thank you. Moms are the greatest treasures in the world!

Connie: What are some of the holistic treatments you used in treating breast cancer?

Patty: I have learned on my own journey how powerful the mind is in one’s healing and that positive thoughts and emotions can have an impact in one's recovery as well. Holistic or mind/body/spirit connection encompasses the emotional, mental, spiritual well-being of an individual. Combined with conventional treatments, optimal healing can occur.

I practiced meditation and guided imagery which decreased my stress, increased relaxation and provided sacred space where healing could occur. I released fear, anger and anxiety through journaling and drawing. And later expressed much gratitude and love through my artwork and my words. I received Reiki and acupuncture for different symptoms, and these tools also helped increase my energy and a relaxed state of being. I used prayer as part of my practice which helped me connect to something greater than myself. It gave me faith and trust like I had never known. I now do not feel alone; I feel so supported and loved. Yoga and "breathe work" assisted with stress and had other wonderful benefits as well. I read books that inspired and uplifted me and sought out support groups and retreats that nourished my soul. And I came to understand that my journey had many life lessons available to me if I chose to look within. I am so grateful that I discovered self-worth, self-esteem, and self-love. I love me and I am worth all the goodness this life has to offer. I share this now with all survivors as you, too, are awesome, magnificent creations of the universe. Know this in your heart.

Namasté,

Patty

Connie: Thank you, Patty, for sharing your journey with all of us, and especially your expertise as an oncology nurse and holistic adviser.

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Comment by holistic practitioner on January 6, 2011 at 8:52pm
Breast Cancer ... Prostate Cancer ... Lung Cancer ... Brain Tumor ... Leukemia ... Melanoma ... Etc. All solutions here.All cancer are now cure-able. All you have to do is to find the right solution that fits your body and mind.
holistic alternative prostate cancer treatment and medication
Comment by Connie Pombo on November 5, 2008 at 8:11am
Hi Denise,

I wish you could meet Patty! She is the most amazing person and I feel privileged to know her. We met at the Weekend of Hope in Stowe, VT. You should really plan on attending; it's the first weekend of May. All lodging is free for first-time attenders. It starts on Friday and ends on Sunday and it's the most amazing weekend, filled with workshops, seminars, and pampering. To find more information, visit: www.stowehope.org. It was the beginning of my healing journey!

Blessings to you Denise!
Comment by Denise on November 4, 2008 at 12:26pm
I think it takes a very special person to be an onccology nurse. I dont know what I would have done without the support and understanding of them. And like you said "you become part of their family".

You must have such a stronger understanding having had breast cancer yourself. That must help your patients alot.

I Also tried the Reiki. I believed it helped me relax. It may have done so much more because I didnt have any REALLY bad days. I mean at the time I thought they had been bad but nothing had me in bed all day. I am so happy to hear that a oncology nurse has used this too.

I enjoyed reading your interview.

Denise

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