Joyce Gad – Mustangs Ahead
(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, a month important to many people. LRHS Social Studies teacher Patricia Haeussler is a breast cancer survivor.
“Because of cancer, I am constantly aware we don’t know what our future holds,” said Haeussler. “Cancer can strike anyone at any age. That’s why it’s important to value what is precious in this life and love the people around you.”
Haeussler’s journey began January of 2020 as she went in for a yearly mammogram and found a small mass. After ultrasounds, labs, and tests, in February her diagnosis was announced of Stage 1 Breast Cancer.
While Haeussler did come from a family history of different kinds of cancer, she had a rarer form of breast cancer. There was no known cause. Only 10% of people have usually a very aggressive form of cancer, leaving Haeussler very grateful to have caught it early.
While many fear the news of such a diagnosis, Haeussler had a sense of hope.
She said, “I was never scared once I learned I had cancer. I knew I would get through it. My family was sad and worried. That was the hardest part for me to see.”
Haeussler’s most important support network was her family and friends. Haeussler felt especially grateful for her oncologist, surgeon, and radiation doctors at Florida Cancer Center.
Haeussler began treatment in March 2020. Starting chemotherapy, Haeussler had four rounds, each spaced every three weeks, for the medications to work. Throughout this process, Haeussler would have to wear a timed immune system booster to inject her 24 hours post-treatment. After every round the next couple days would be spent in bed to regain strength.
During the summer, Haeussler’s tumor was removed, and she began to take an oral form of chemo. However, not being able to tolerate the medications, she began radiation treatment. In August she began six weeks of radiation treatment on her left breast every day for 15 minutes.
“I was so happy when all of that was over! Radiation is extremely tiring. Your body is fighting to heal itself every day and it zaps your energy. I had to take a nap every day to recover,” continued Haeussler.
When going back to school, she found much support from students, administration, and colleagues.
“I will never forget their kindness during such a difficult time,” she said.