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Cancer patient promotes early detection

Karen Woodmansee
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

A Carson City woman who is in the fight of her life with cancer is hoping her experience and efforts will push others for early testing.

Patricia Wachsman, 72, had a cough in August and went to see her doctor, who ordered an X-ray. She found out the cough was the least of her worries.

Wachsman, who lost her husband in 2002 to brain cancer, is fighting the disease herself. First, cancer was detected in one of her breasts, which she had removed two months ago. Later, more cancer was found throughout her body.

Her first reaction was of disbelief.

“I just had a little cough,” she said. “I felt fine. Then it dawned on me that I was listening to a doctor tell me I had cancer. It was a shock. My first thought was, ‘Oh, God, how can I tell my children that I have cancer?'”

She said she was assisted by the more than 30 family and friends who stayed at the hospital with her during her mastectomy, and also during her recovery at home.

Wachsman’s two daughters also faced different types of the disease.

She said her doctor told her the cancer probably began not long after her husband died, which could have been detected and treated effectively then, but now is in her spine, chest and throat.

Wachsman went to the Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center’s Cancer Center for pamphlets, which were in short supply because the center had just completed the Walk for the Cure. That gave her the idea to have her own Cancer Awareness Walk.

So on Sunday at 2 p.m., Wachsman, her two daughters, two dogs and six neighbors walked a mile around their Desatoya Drive neighborhood handing out information on the importance of early detection and collecting donations for the cancer center.

She’s not part of an organization, Wachsman said, she just wanted to do something more than her previous fundraising for the American Cancer Society.

“Just contacting 10 neighbors is not enough,” she said.

The effort is important to help her own healing, as well as to warn others to get regular tests.

“It’s very helpful because it makes you realize what is happening to you and hope with early detection it will help others that have no idea,” she said. “I don’t know why there is not a cure, when you hear of so many people who have cancer.”

– Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or call 881-7351.