Faith and Humor: Patty Considine’s Breast Cancer Journey
Fitness enthusiast Patty Considine remembers getting her picture taken in front of the new Prairie Center when she was in Sioux Falls to celebrate its opening in 2010.
“I remember feeling so happy that this place was here for people who need it,” she said of the Prairie Center, home to Avera Cancer Institute.
Seven years later, when she herself was in need of breast cancer care, that picture came to her mind.
Considine, who works as a physical therapist assistant in Sioux City, Iowa, is an extremely active wife and mother who enjoys running, biking and taking part in triathlons. After her first husband died of cancer, she remarried, and she and her husband, Bob McClintock, have a 5-year-old son, Tyler. She also has grown children – Mike and Kelly.
“I was very conscious of my health and very adamant of getting my mammograms done each year, because I had a grandmother who was diagnosed in her 50s,” she said.
An Unwelcome Update
Her January 2017 routine mammogram resulted in an unwelcome surprise: she had developed stage III breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes.
The first thing Considine wanted to do was to get out into nature. “I dropped my son at preschool, got out my fat tire bike, and took off riding in the snow. I rode and rode and found myself at the church, where I lit the prayer candle and prayed for a medical team to take care of me, and for my family, and to find the grace to make it through.”
Later that day she put on her winter running gear and went to a nearby state park to run, listening to spiritual music through her headphones. “There were just moments of sun shining through and feeling the power and strength that was already within me.”
When asked where she wanted to go to treatment, Considine opted for the Avera Cancer Institute in Sioux Falls. “Knowing I had a team behind me was huge. It started with the nurse navigator, Nancy. I called her a lot and she was always so great to calm me down and find whatever answers to my questions.” Her Avera specialists were Amy Krie, MD, medical oncologist, and Julie Reiland, MD, breast surgeon. “I made such a great connection with all of them.”
Steps Along the Journey
She had her surgery and first round of chemo in Sioux Falls. Then, because Krie provides outreach visits in Spencer, Iowa, Considine was able to have her second round of chemo there, and then go to her family’s cabin at Lake Okoboji for the weekend.
To help cope with the side effects of her treatment, she took advantage of Integrative Medicine services, including acupuncture, massage and a mindfulness class. “I’m also a big believer in aromatherapy – it helped me with nausea and sleep,” Considine said.
In addition to her cancer care team, Considine credits her husband, her family and friends for their amazing support.
Power Beyond Words
Considine took part in the Avera Race Against Breast Cancer in 2017 and 2018.
“Being among so many women and survivors and in the group photo of survivors was beyond words – it was so powerful. It’s a great cause and Avera is able to do great things with the money raised,” she said, mentioning the wig program. “The Avera Race is very personal to me because of the Avera team and people I’ve met who are so amazing.”
Considine faced her cancer with humor, faith and a positive outlook.
“I knew that with taking on cancer, I needed to find my own strength. I already had a strong faith and it grew even more,” she said.
The Avera Cancer Institute infusion units have “bells of hope” that patients can ring to celebrate milestones in their journey. “I rang the bell every chance I had. I met some amazing people I can call friends at Avera. No matter what challenges you face, with faith, family and friends, you can do it.”
Most people hope they will never get cancer, but for Considine, she doesn’t regret that she had to go through it. “I am forever changed and forever blessed.”