Patty Kyle of Paris is a steadfast believer in God and the power of prayer.
She looked to both when diagnosed with breast cancer and — after being ravaged by the deadly disease — survived to rebuild her life and experience many blessings she would have otherwise missed.
“There is no evidence of cancer in my body today,” Kyle said recently, her face beaming with joy.
Her cheerful disposition gave way to tears moments later when she recalled how her battle with cancer started in September 2012.
At that time, the family of six — Patty, her husband, Kirk, and their children, Kaleb, Mary Kathryn and Luke — were focused on a huge lifestyle change. They had just moved to Texarkana after 17 years in Paris and were selling their former home and buying a new one. The couple was starting new jobs, looking for a new church and their children were getting ready to transition from homeschool to public school. Life was hectic and full of new possibilities and challenges.
The leading challenge came as a shock to everyone.
Kyle had noticed a lump and burning sensation in her breast. But after a Google search on breast cancer symptoms, her initial concerns subsided.
“Everything I read said cancer didn’t burn,” she said.
Having had lumps in her breast in the past that were benign, Kyle shrugged the issue off, believing all of her symptoms were likely due to aging.
“I was not worried at all,” she said.
Her attention refocused on the demands of the new lifestyle.
But on Sept. 26, 2012, Kyle and her husband found themselves praying while waiting in the medical office for her doctor. When the physician arrived, he delivered the news.
“Unfortunately, you do have cancer,” the doctor told the mother of three.
For a moment, the couple was stunned. They held each other and cried.
Seven years later — almost to the day — Kyle sat in the comfort on her living room and wiped away tears thinking about all she and her family had gone through after her diagnosis.
Following the initial shock came overwhelming fear.
“There is so much fear,” Kyle said. “Am I going to die? Are my kids going to be left without a mother? How do we tell the kids?”
Her children had just started public school in a new town and among strangers. Their teachers and school counselors would not know if the children were behaving normally or acting out upon learning of their mother’s illness.
Along with fear came guilt, Kyle said.
She felt guilty for waiting so long to see a doctor. Guilty for possibly passing along a gene that could put her daughter at a higher risk of developing breast cancer some day, and guilty about the price tag that comes along with trying to survive cancer.
After being diagnosed with her stage 2 invasive duct cell carcinoma in 2012, Kyle had sentinel lymph node surgery on Oct. 10. A week later, she underwent a bilateral mastectomy with expanders, needed to stretch her skin for reconstruction and implants later on, and several port placements to make giving chemotherapy easier.
By the time she had the bilateral mastectomy, her breast cancer had reached stage 3.
“The tumor had grown very rapidly,” she said.
As if breast cancer weren’t enough, Kyle was diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma in 2014, which eventually reached stage 4.
Overall, she endured 12 surgeries as well as “aggressive” chemotherapy and treatments, and she participated in a drug study. Another surgery is planned for December to replace her implants, which have been recalled.
The most difficult aspects of her experience were emotional and financial, she said. She characterized the chemotherapy treatments as a form of torture.
Every three weeks — for 18 months — she went through eight rounds of chemo, sitting in a chair for eight hours at a time, feeling the warmth of the anti-cancer drugs spread through her body.
Afterward, she felt exhausted, nauseous and weak.
Toward the end of the first week after chemotherapy, she felt good enough to sit up in bed. The second week she could move around the house a bit. By the third week, she could walk to the end of her driveway and check the mail. But then came the hardest part — doing more chemo and suffering with the effects for weeks again.
“It’s a constant battle of the mind,” she said.
It was during this period Kyle struggled the most.
She described looking into a mirror one day and not recognizing herself. Instead, there stood a person who looked sickly and pale, no hair, a painful rash and with blood creeping out of her nose and mouth. Oozing sores covered her arms. Her urine burned her skin.
“It’s gross,” she wrote in her online journal.
It is during such times, when you are at your lowest, Kyle contends, that Satan pushes you to give up.
“Satan wants to destroy every good thing you have. He whispers, ‘You’re ugly. People have to take care of you. You’re worthless. You’re a burden. Just die already,’” Kyle said. “It would have been so easy to give up.”
But she said God, through his Word, reminds you this period is a very short time in life and you will get through it.
“It is God’s fulfillment of a promise,” she said.
Had Kyle given up her fight for life, she knows she would have missed so many blessings, such as spending more time with her family and friends.
“I wanted to see my kids grow up. I wanted to see my son graduate. I wanted to see my grandkids,” she said. “I prayed to see my grandbabies.”
After moving back to Paris in 2015, Kyle’s prayers about grandchildren were answered when her daughter gave birth to a baby girl — Harper Grace — on Aug. 20, 2018, while in town visiting her mom.
“I was bawling the whole time,” Kyle said, holding out her phone showing a photo of herself and Kirk with their first grandchild.
Her daughter and granddaughter ended up staying a week at Kyle’s home, which thrilled the new grandmother who got to spend quality time with them.
Now, physically able to work again as a speech language pathologist, Kyle is excited about helping her husband rebuild their lives.
She noted the financial aspects of having cancer is overwhelming. Even with insurance, there is so much cost involved. Her deductible was $10,000 and the medical bills grew to well over $100,000. Added to that is the costs of travel, lodging and a long list of other expenses.
Kyle pointed out family and friends helped ease the financial burden by giving monetarily, providing meals and driving her to appointments.
With her working and being able to spend less on health care, life in the Kyle household is back on track. The couple has even been able to build a cabin in Broken Bow they named “Perfect Peace.”
“I am working full time again. I have my job. I can spoil the grandbaby. I can cook and clean and enjoy my family. The Lord is so good,” Kyle said.
Referencing God’s word, she summed up how her fight to survive allowed her to reap so many blessings.
“You walk through the valley (hard times). You have to stand. You have to keep going,” Kyle said. “Then you get to sit in the green meadow. That is where I am now.”
Today, she shows no evidence of disease.