“And all of a sudden, I said to my husband, I feel dizzy - and that’s the last thing I remember.”
Patricia Guido was enjoying a night with her family when all of a sudden she experienced two dizzy spells among other symptoms. She described the night as kind of a fluke that eventually led her to the hospital. Once at her local hospital, the doctors were initially unable to figure out what exactly was happening with Patricia; however, they discovered that her blood levels were extremely low.
Two days later, her diagnosis - Leukemia. “It felt as if the doctor was talking to someone else.” Her first thought was, “You can’t be talking to me. There’s just no way!” As reality began to sink in, Patricia’s second thought was, “I’m going to die.”
The doctors were ready to get started immediately with treatment but Patricia - even with knowing how excellent her physician is - wanted a second opinion. She was referred to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY and as soon as she walked in the doors for her appointment she said to her husband and her daughter, “This seems so right.”
We Got This!
At Strong, Patricia received a thorough explanation of everything that was happening to her and what she describes as the best care. She was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Once the doctor explained everything, Patricia had one question, “Can I please stay here? I knew that I did not want to go back to Syracuse. It was going to be a major inconvenience on my kids, and my husband but I knew I wanted to be there.”
Patricia was checked into Strong right away. She went through an intense week long chemotherapy (three days receiving two different types of chemo, 24 hours a day and the last four days receiving one type of chemo, 24 hours a day), followed by three weeks of recovery, and then returning to Strong for a process called consolidation (chemo every other day). She was finally released to the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge where she and her family were able to stay while going through treatments.
One of the most interesting things about Patricia is that she was never sick. “None of the things that they had said would happen to me, happened. I did lose all my hair and I thought I was going to be okay with that because right from the beginning - once it sunk in - I thought, okay, what do we do next? I have 14 members of my family (including two dogs) that I am not about to leave yet. I’m going to fight this thing. In fact, we came up with a slogan that says, We got this!”
Patricia’s amazing family is her support system that gets her through the tough moments. They even created “Open-When” envelopes for her - “Open when you’re happy. Open when you receive good news.” The envelope she never wants to open is - “Open when you feel like giving up.”
Patricia’s optimism and amazing strength has led her to now being 100% in remission. She remembers receiving a 9 PM phone call from her doctor on a Friday night to tell her that she no longer had Leukemia. You could hear excitement in Patricia’s voice as she told me that she is currently working towards a stem cell transplant. The doctors found several perfect matches (which is unheard of!). Three of the matches were selected specifically for Patricia and she will be having the transplant before the end of 2017.
She ended her story with, “One more hurdle to get over and that’s it! So, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it” - and what an amazing story it is!
NOTE FROM AUTHOR
Six years ago, Patricia’s 17-year old granddaughter was hit by a drunk driver. Patricia says that losing her granddaughter was the worst thing that ever happened to her and cancer doesn’t even compare. She says that you find out from situations like the ones mentioned above, that nothing matters but family. I am forever grateful to have spoken with Patricia as she reminded me that even in the tough times, you can be inspired and motivated to push forward and keep fighting.
Patricia was my first interview and my last photo shoot. After speaking with her in October, I literally hung up the phone and then balled my eyes out! Patricia’s story, her wonderfully upbeat spirit, and her amazingly supportive family overwhelmed me with so much joy that I started crying (happy tears).
In November, I visited Patricia and her incredibly kind husband, Frank, at the Wilmot Cancer Center. It was a visit I’ll never forget. They were both so loving and welcoming! It was very unexpected as I nervously entered the room. At the end of the photo shoot, I honestly didn’t want to leave. I was surrounded by so much love and positivity. I’ve never met a more loving couple and I am beyond grateful to have met two new friends! Thank you Patricia and Frank for sharing your story with me and for inspiring me beyond what words can describe!