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Local breast cancer survivor deals with triumph and fear

Posted: 5:01 PM, Sep 24, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-08 13:39:06-04
Making Strides

TUCSON, Ariz. — About 1 in 8 women in the U-S will develop breast cancer. That's a pretty staggering statistic. And it's a reason KGUN9 is once again joining forces to raise money in the fight against breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society is truly attacking this illness from every angle and that includes next month's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Armory Park.

We're leading up to that fund raising event with a series of stories on those who are in the fight.

We begin with a very inspirational cancer survivor.

Patti Scozzarella's life has always been plenty full; full of family, full of friends, full of love. She managed to balance her very active home-life and work-life, until she noticed, or rather felt, something unusual on her breast.

"It was abnormal and I was like -- when did that pop up? And it was very quick," she said.

Wasting no time, she got tested to find out what it could be. She'll never forget the look on her doctor's face.

"Her face read everything. And she told me what it was and life just changed from there. I just shut down. I don't even remember the rest of the appointment."

Her doctor had told her she had stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma, a common type of breast cancer.

It came as a complete shock because her family has *no history of cancer.

"I was how am I going to explain to my kids, what does this mean for my future, my job, how everything goes, you're head is so full of questions," she said.

But it didn't take long for the barrage of answers to follow. A team of cancer doctors scheduled countless tests and procedures starting with chemo.

"They said with the chemo and the surgery, they were hoping for a straight shot of being cancer-free," said Patti.

And that gave Patti a lot of hope.

She shared how her family reacted to what would be the most trying and scary journey in Patti's life. "My mother, my sister, my brother. Everyone just stopped. And it was just like 'What do you need'? You never know how family strong you are until something like that happens," she said.

Patti leaned on loved ones to get her through the daily struggles. She called the radiation and chemo treatments rough. The difficult side effects took a toll on her hitting her hard as she began losing her hair, her eyelashes, her eyebrows.

Patti: "I would wear scarves. People would just look at you like you're different."

Cavazos: "How did you adjust to that?"

Patti: "I smiled and wore my badge. Then I would have a handful of ladies out there - keep fighting, keep going."

Patti had to undergo a double mastectomy - devastating, she said, for any woman. But the dread and fear that came with her cancer diagnosis took a sudden turn on October 17th, 2018.

Patti received incredible news. "I'm cancer-free. It will be a year next month. One year cancer-free," she said.

Now Patti is adjusting to life as a breast cancer survivor and is a strong advocate for Making Strides. "To bring awareness. To have people go out to get your mammograms," said said.

Patti is very optimistic about her future, but there's that one lingering fear, common with cancer patients, that she's never truly out of the woods. She said, "That's a survivor's worst nightmare. It's always there. Is it going to come back?"

If or when that day comes, Patti knows more than ever to live life to the fullest. "Let my kids know that I love them. My husband knows that I love him and my family. And every day is a blessing," she said.

The American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Tucson event is on October 20th at Armory Park, downtown Tucson.

Please consider donating or joining our KGUN9 Making Strides Team -- Click Here!

For more about the Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk -- Click Here!