1/15/2014 by Nicole LaCour
Everyone has days in their lives that are seared in their memory, moments you will never forget. For Pandora Patt, two such moments changed her life. When she was12 years old, her brother-in-law, a minister gave her an important message. “He gave me a word of knowledge, a word from God,” she remembered. He told her, “God is going to use you throughout your life, to minister to people, to help them heal.” Pandora knew something had changed.
On June 5, 2014 Pandora received a different kind of knowledge. Her doctor informed her that she had a mass in her stomach. “He called me at 7:30 in the morning and said, ‘You have to see the oncologist today.’ As soon as he said oncologist, I knew.” It was Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Pandora was faced with one of the biggest challenges of her life.
Today, Pandora walks into a room full of light and beauty. Her short, natural hair growing back, rather stylishly and accentuating the shape of her face, her lovely skin tone and her bright eyes. She is a woman of presence.
The knowledge she received at 12, the moment she describes as “being saved,” has seen her through this challenge. But it wasn’t easy. “You have fear, you have anxiety, you have stress because you’re human,” she said. “But I never asked God ‘Why?’ I told God, ‘Ok, I’m still with you, but you got to show me the way.’ So, I put my mind somewhere else, with God and believed that it was going to be ok.” More than just a comfort to herself, Pandora drew on her faith, her calling to help those around her who were fighting the same fight.
“When I saw someone laying in a chair, getting treatment, I talked to them. I told them my story and heard theirs.” Pandora often cried together with people and found healing in the shared expression.
Through her experience, Pandora kept coming back to a phrase, “the face of cancer.” She wondered about what that meant. What did it mean to her? Is there a face of cancer? Can that idea be challenged by how you face your battle? It’s a continuing dialogue Pandora hopes to have and maybe even write about one day.
Her diagnosis came at a time of existing struggle. Her family; she has two children, a son, 10 and a daughter, she was living in their garage after her home had been flooded. She was nursing a back injury and still mourning the loss of her father only a few months before. She found strength in her mother and sisters, always by her side with material, emotional and spiritual support.
MPCS was helpful too, Pandora said. With Smiles for Miles her kids got to have a more active and fun life. With nutritional supplements, wigs and other supplies MPCS helped her to fight.
And then came the pies. Pandora had these little boxes that she had purchased. She kept looking at them and asking God, “What do you want me to put in those boxes?”
“I remember what my Dad told me before he died, ‘When all the ghosts in your head are coming around, look around you. Use what you have in front of you.’” Pandora looked around, saw the boxes and some sweet potatoes. “I can use my mom’s recipe,” she thought. So, with the help of her children and family she started making pies. She uses her little boxed pies to give back to the people who helped her and to earn extra money, as word of mouth spreads about her sweet potato pies.
Pandora’s treatment shrunk her tumor down but she is not cancer-free. A small mass is slowly growing again in her lymph nodes. Her doctor told her she needs a biopsy, a dangerous procedure considering where the mass is. “I’m hearing this and thinking, ‘where else am I going to run?’ They’re telling me this and I’m afraid and anxious but I have someone feeding me wisdom so I say, ‘It’s going to be fine.’”
With support from her family, unwavering faith, ingenuity and grace Pandora vowed to continue to fight and trust in her belief that she is fulfilling her purpose, her mission in this world.