Patient Story: Patty W. – Breast Cancer


When you’re a 33-year-old freelance make-up artist, mother of two and single, you don’t have time for breast cancer. And yet, says Patty, as difficult as it’s been going through surgery, chemo and, finally, proton therapy, her encounter with cancer is one she has valued.

Patty learned about Provision Center for Proton Therapy one day on a shoot from a woman she was working with. That same day, the photographer on the shoot mentioned he was shooting pictures at the center for the local newspaper. Another friend was working at Provision and urged Patty to consider it as an alternative to conventional radiation.

“It just kept coming up in different circles,” she says.

Proton therapy is especially ideal for breast cancer patients because its limited radiation dosage outside the tumor site protects the heart and lungs from long-term damage and the risk of secondary cancer.

After researching proton therapy herself, Patty contacted Provision and was accepted for treatment.

She hasn’t regretted the decision.

An economics major in college, Patty was working at a make-up counter when she was approached by a Scripps Networks producer to see if she was interested in working on the show, Material Girls, which ran a few seasons on the DIY Network. Since then, Patty has done make-up for a variety of television productions including true crime shows produced by Jupiter Entertainment and HGTV’s Dream Home and Smart Home.

“That painter needs their make-up perfect,” she jokes.

She’s done make-up for Tennessee Farm Bureau ads as well as several campaigns featuring Peyton Manning, who requests her by name.

She managed to juggle the demands of work and family while undergoing chemotherapy—a process that was difficult for her children, especially her eight-year-old son.

“The physical changes of chemo were a really big deal,” she says. “That was a hard time for him.”

“It’s like this club you don’t want to be a part of,” Patty says. “But it has taught me so much about my faith and my strength and being carried through with other people and their prayers.”

She found her radiation oncologist at Provision, Dr. Allen Meek, to be “reassuring and honest. He’s an amazing doctor who is comforting and makes you feel comfortable.”

After the experience of chemotherapy, which she found both physically and psychology draining, Patty’s time at Provision has been a happy surprise.

“There’s a level of care from the moment you walk in,” she says. “It just doesn’t feel like you’re going through radiation treatment.”

From the building itself, sunshine spilling through the windows and open areas that encourage patients to relax and connect with each other, to the personalities of the caregivers—during Patty’s interview for this story chief physicist Niek Schreuder stopped to about her—she says her therapy has been a bright spot during a difficult time.

Patty has gotten to meet other patients, including 11-year-old Emma Ferrell, during a photo shoot for this series of patient stories for which Patty volunteered to do make-up.

“Emma didn’t like makeup at all, but she was really drawn to me and that was something special,” Patty says.

She felt an immediate connection with the hospitality staff and appreciated their genuine care.

“There’s nothing like, ‘This is my job I have to perform,’” she says.


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