An interview with Patty Ratliff, Bryant Bank’s HR Director, and Kelsey Rush, Marketing Director
If you know our beloved HR Director, Patty Ratliff, you know that she is a woman who is full of life and love. Everyone that interacts with Patty feels her deep compassion for others, her joy for her family, and her commitment to her faith.
I’ll never forget the day that Patty shared she had breast cancer with me. It was in Bryant Bank’s training room in June 2019. Sitting at a table with four other women, Patty bravely told us the shocking news. We listened, we cried, we talked, and we hugged in the moments that followed. From that moment on, we have been constantly inspired by a woman who has overcome this challenge in life with such positivity and strength.
Patty has always been an advocate for breast cancer awareness and education as the history of this disease runs deep in her family. And in the spirit of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I sat down with Patty in hopes to share her story of perseverance, her family history, and the importance of early detection, awareness, and education.
At Bryant Bank, breast cancer has impacted many of our bankers in different ways. No matter the month though, our Bryant Bank family is always proud to support the fighters and the survivors as we remember and honor the loved ones that we have lost.
Continue reading for Patty’s Breast Cancer story.
Q: SHARE WITH US THE BACKGROUND OF YOUR BREAST CANCER STORY.
My journey began in April 2019 when I went for my annual mammogram. Two days following my visit, I received a call that the doctors saw a spot. After a second mammogram, the radiologist originally recommended I wait six months and get re-tested. However, due to my family history, neither I nor my doctor wanted to play the waiting game and I was referred to UAB Kirklin Clinic Breast Center. After many more tests and consultations, I was diagnosed on June 24th with Stage 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.
Having a strong family history of breast cancer, I often wondered how I would feel if I ever heard the “C” word! God certainly gave me a peace and strength that I never expected and this carried me through some incredibly hard days ahead as we continued to wait for answers. Waiting was the hardest!
On Friday, August 16th, I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction and a lymph node biopsy to determine if the cancer had spread and if treatment would be needed (more waiting!). My pathology report came back with clean margins and no cancer in the lymph nodes. This meant that I was cancer free and would not have to take treatments other than oral chemo for the next five years.
Q: Has breast cancer impacted other family members?
I do have a strong family history of breast cancer. I lost my maternal grandmother in 2000 and my mother was diagnosed the following year. After a hard-fought battle, she lost her life three years later. For many years, fear of cancer held my sister back from getting a mammogram but I continued to encourage her. It was during her first mammogram, at the age of 46, that she found out she, too, had breast cancer. We are blessed to say that she just celebrated 10-years cancer free!
Q: What have you learned throughout this experience that you’d like to share with others?
Early detection is the best protection! None of us are immune from cancer and we need to make sure we do regular exams, annual mammograms and continue to encourage those who don’t take this seriously. Studies show 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Since my diagnosis last year, I have had three friends who have been diagnosed. While it was difficult for me to experience, I always want to share my story and support others who are facing this battle, too!
Q: What words of encouragement would you share with another woman battling breast cancer right now?
I was so overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and prayers throughout my journey and I know that the peace I felt going into surgery could only come from God and so many prayers.
When going through something like this, it’s important to have a strong support system. This is what makes a difference for your mental, physical, and emotional health as you walk through this journey. I had to rely on my husband and family to take care of me for many weeks after my surgery, too. My husband was my rock – he took such great care of me during those weeks of recovery and was by my side for every single doctors visit!
Ultimately, I thank God for my family, my church, my Bryant Bank family and my friends who encouraged me, loved me, and constantly prayed for me!
Q: What was a quote that carried you throughout this time?
“When we embrace uncertainty, it can be liberating. If you can accept the uncertainty, it allows you to live life every day.” – Victor Gospodinoff