By Nancy Gay
Amid a collage of shiny, jingling bracelets, a leather strap wraps around Patty Soltis’ wrist with the word “Courageous” emblazoned on a silver metal plate. For this image consultant, the bracelet is more than a fashion statement; it’s a way of life.
When doctors diagnosed Soltis with stage 1 breast cancer in 2017 after a routine mammogram, she felt like she had the best of a bad situation. Soltis underwent a lumpectomy and five weeks of radiation. She thought that was it and expected to have biannual appointments at Moffitt Cancer Center for checkups. But about nine months later, Soltis felt a lump on her neck and doctors discovered a spot on her lungs.
Soltis is no stranger to cancer. Her sister passed away from leukemia in 1986 at the age of 9 and her father passed away three years ago from liver and bile cancer. That was his second bout with cancer. He fought prostate cancer in 2001.
Since cancer runs in her family, Soltis underwent genetic testing. She tested negative for the BRCA mutations, but positive for two other genetic mutations. Soltis says her doctors are monitoring the lump on her neck and spot on her lungs. They told her the cancer will likely keep coming back and it will be a constant battle for the rest of her life.
Cancer has taken a toll on Soltis physically and mentally. While undergoing radiation, she lost about 20% of her hair. She used to pride herself on being able to remember every little detail. She says that changed after completing radiation treatment. Now, she can’t remember anything and it drives her nuts.
She took advantage of Moffitt’s Behavioral Medicine Clinic, where she learned how to cope with the mental impact of cancer. Soltis often wears a tiara to treatment, saves every hospital bracelet and takes a selfie each time she walks into the cancer center. Plus, she does something special after each visit to Moffitt. She makes plans to ride a roller coaster at Busch Gardens, have lunch with a friend or eat her favorite potato chips to give her something to look forward to after an appointment.
Soltis says she went through breast cancer treatment privately and shared details of her illness with only a few select individuals. A year later she decided to share her story publicly and give back at the same time. She says, “Everybody has something and this is mine.”
A month before the 2018 Miles for Moffitt event, she formed a team called Patty’s Powerful Pink Posse. The team, made up of women who wore pink wigs, shirts and tutus to the event, raised more than $7,000 for cancer research.
Though her cancer journey continues, Soltis is participating in the 2019 Miles for Moffitt with the hope of raising even more money.
Learn more about Miles for Moffitt and register at www.MilesforMoffitt.com.