Patient Stories Patty Grace

They say if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Patty Grace did both, in fact — she first beat cancer, and then joined the team at Valley View she credits with helping her get through that tough time, in Integrative Therapies.

Six years ago, Patty’s husband was in the hospital with a life-threatening neck injury when she received news of her own breast cancer diagnosis. “We were waiting for my husband to go into surgery and the next day I got diagnosed with breast cancer,” she says. “It was an overwhelming weekend. I said to the person who gave me my diagnosis, ‘is it treatable?’ and she said yes, so told her that was all I needed to know, so I could focus on my husband, and then move into my own healing journey.”

Patty’s journey did end up including chemotherapy and radiation, and admits that going through cancer, including those key cancer-fighting treatments, is “no fun.” “The pain management and other symptom management was definitely an obstacle, but I knew it was temporary, and the positive that came out of was so much more than the negative.”

The positive experience began when Patty was introduced to Valley View’s Integrative Therapies department, which is part of the hospital’s network of support. The therapies are offered free of charge to patients as part of the healing process, and range from massage therapy, accupuncture, tai chi and yoga. The Integrative Therapies team helps assess each patient’s individual needs, to determine what care would suit them the best.

“Healing touch was so helpful to me in managing symptoms, and helping on so many levels getting through this process,” Patty says. “It was quite the gift to have this service here. It opened my eyes to a whole other realm of care that I wasn’t aware of.”

Patty never forgot about the care she received at Valley View, and years later thought back on that experience and wanted to make that same difference in someone else’s life.

“Three and a half years ago I was hiking up Red Mountain and looked down at the Cancer Center being built,” she says. “I remember standing on that mountain and saying to myself, ‘I will work there one day and help others.’”

With one of the Integrated Therapies team members as a teacher and mentor, Patty is now part of the Healing Touch Massage Therapy team, available at no charge to patients at Valley View Hospital. She remembers gravitating toward the therapists that have experienced cancer as she was in the midst of fighting the disease, and now she is one of those therapists.

“I have a true understanding of what they’re experiencing, and it’s intense. The emotional, physical and mental aspects are over the top,” she says. “It always gave me comfort when I could talk to someone who’d say, ‘Oh yeah, I get that, I’ve been there to, and you’re going to be okay.”