For Patty Chase of Florence: battling cancer is personal


It hasn’t been a good day for Patty Chase. She says that there are good days and bad days, and as she continues to work on this weekend’s “Relay for Life” event, this is one of the bad days.

“I’ve been thinking about Red all day,” she says quietly, tears welling up in her eyes. “Sometimes it’s tough not to think about things.”

Patty Chase has been a stalwart of the Switzerland County event to raise funds for cancer research since it began in 2000; and again tomorrow (Friday) night when the first lap is announced, she will walk that opening lap proudly, alongside many of her friends.

It was July of 1980 when Patty Chase sensed that something wasn’t right and decided to see a doctor. An examination and tests confirmed that she was suffering from uterine cancer. Trying to come to grips with the diagnosis, Patty Chase said that her first question to her doctor was one that many cancer patients ask:

“I asked him if the treatments were going to make me sick,” she says. “I didn’t know if I would be able to drive myself back and forth for the treatments if I was going to get sick. The doctor told me that ‘If you think you’re going to get sick, you will. If you don’t, you won’t.”

Patty Chase said that she took that advice to heart, and never got sick in spite of driving herself back and forth to Louisville for treatments everyday for 35 days. Once the treatments were finished, she spent three days in the hospital before coming home.

“I’m a 26-year survivor,” she says proudly. “I guess they caught mine in time. That’s the important part of doctoring. If you think you’ve got a problem, you better go and see about it.”

Although she’s lived in Florence for more than 40 years, Patty Chase slyly shares that she’ll always be a “Vevay girl” at heart, having been born in town. But she works diligently for her adopted community; and working for the American Cancer Society is a big part of that.

She and her “Florence and Friends” team will again take part in this year’s “Relay for Life”, but Patty Chase and her friends have been collecting for cancer research long before the relay events started.

“Inky Jackson was our inspiration,” Patty Chase says. “She got us started, and we did it for her. We enjoyed going out all over York Township and visiting with people as we collected. They enjoyed our visits, too, whether they gave us a dollar or 20 dollars.”

The core group of the “Florence and Friends” remains in tact as the group prepares for their annual walk: Shirley Gregory, Inky Jackson, Glenda Sullivan, Edie Markland, Roy and Bonnie Duckworth, Charles and Alberta Pickett, and Shannon Jackson.

Others have also been a part of the team at different times, with some having split off and formed their own relay teams to help raise even more money.

Patty Chase also shared that her sister, Donna Bowman, was also instrumental in raising money for cancer research until her death from the disease in January of 2005.

Along with being a cancer survivor, Patty Chase has seen the disease touch nearly every facet of her life.

Her father, a brother, and two sisters all died as a result of cancer; but nothing shook Patty Chase as when her beloved husband, Ronald “Red” Chase, passed away in December of last year as a result of cancer.

“Red didn’t even know he had it,” she says. “When they found it, it was only about two months until he died. Even though he doctored, they never caught it until it was too late.”

Which is one of the reasons that Patty Chase preaches that people need to see their doctor on a regular basis — even if they fear the unknown.

“People need to have regular check ups,” Patty Chase says. “Sometimes people don’t feel good, but don’t go to the doctor because they are afraid of what they might hear. Doctors caught mine early and I’m a survivor, so people need to make sure if there is something wrong, they get it found early. Don’t be afraid to go to the doctor.”

She also isn’t shaken by the decline in participation in the Switzerland County “Relay for Life” in recent years, and feels that better days are ahead for the event.

“It started out really high here and then it’s gone down in recent years,” she says. “I think it’s on the way back up now, I really do. Last year was a really bad year, but now I think they’re working their way back up. I’m encouraged.”

She also likes the setting at the high school track; noting that although the venue at the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park is beautiful; the high school provides a better walking track, and also cover in the event of bad weather. There’s also plenty of room for campsites and events on the grounds around the track.

So when onlookers see Patty Chase walking her laps at this weekend’s “Relay for Life”, know that she does so with the conviction that her steps are making a difference; and will make a difference in the life of someone in the months and years to come as research zeroes in on a cure.

“It’s pretty simple, really,” she smiles. “We just keep going. We believe that they will find a cure, and until they do, we’re gonna keep walking. It’s just that simple.”