J. Patten & M. Patten
The last few years of my life have been quite hectic. I don’t really talk about my personal life much, unless someone asks (in which I’m always happy to answer questions), because it usually makes people feel bad (in general and/or for me), and I don’t want pity. With all of that said, I feel as if writing about everything that is happening/has happened will not only help me, but also answer questions anyone may have.
My momma, Raven Elaine Patten, is one of the most fun-loving and best mothers out there. I will always have a special place in my heart for her. She was the one who pushed me to play volleyball, made me paranoid about staining my clothes (which somehow, I still manage to do), and told me how beautiful I was, even when I didn’t feel like it. My mom is by far one of the strongest and most influential people in my life. On May 19, 2014, at the age of 34, she was diagnosed with stage 3C Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (Breast Cancer). When someone you love is diagnosed with any illness, life threatening or not, your world stops. It was like landing on your back very hard and having the wind knocked out of you. It was hard watching her go through her countless surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. I remember when her hair started falling out and we all participated and shaved it completely. Her hair was something that was pretty important to her. I think we all cried a lot that day; happy and sad tears.
Exactly one year after my mom’s last Chemo treatment, Jaiden, my younger brother (9), was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. They found a tumor that was taking up almost all his abdomen and pushing his right kidney into his spinal cord. He had lesions all over the bones in his legs, and couldn’t walk for a while. We had to push him in a stroller until he was strong enough to push himself in a wheelchair. Jaiden has undergone many surgeries, bone marrow transplants, and is currently (and has been for the past seven months) going through chemo.
The past three years or so have been filled with hospital visits, masks, pill bottles, head shaves, and good memories. Through all of this, I could not be more grateful for what I have, a loving, caring, and beautiful family of fighters. I am thankful that I get to see their smiling faces every day knowing that they are survivors. They are by far the strongest people I know, and I love them with all my heart. The amount of positivity that they radiate is incredible, and I couldn’t thank God enough for what I have. I am thankful for my dad, being the rock that he is, and keeping us together when times are tough, and for the community-our friends, family, co-workers, school teachers, etc., who have done a tremendous number of things to help us from cooking us dinners to holding fundraisers.
Having gone through this experience, I think it has changed the way that I look at life. Never take for granted anything that you’d have, for it can be taken away at any moment. Take every opportunity you are given, don’t pass up anything. And always, keep in your heart the important things in life.