Finding Breast Cancer Support through a Center and a Cup of Coffee

As Patricia 'Trish' Hardin prepared for Christmas, she went in for her annual mammogram on December 17. A few days later, she received a call from her gynecologist, telling her she needed to go to the Harrington Breast Center for a diagnostic ultrasound. “I had my ultrasound done on December 23rd and was told I would need a biopsy, so Christmas was a really sad time because there was a lot of uncertainty,” Patricia shares. “I had my biopsy done in January and received the news I was diagnosed with breast cancer a few days later.”

Trish heard the news of her diagnoses from her nurse navigator, Bobby. “She called me with my results on a Monday and I met with her that Thursday, where she gave me a booklet and told me she would be with me through all of it,” says Patricia. “She was amazing and took care of all of my appointments and went to them with me.”

Trish had surgery in March and was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma in Citu (DCIS), which is a non-invasive cancer where abnormal cells have been found in the lining of the milk duct, but have not spread outside of the duct into the surrounding breast tissue. “I was very fortunate it didn’t spread and I didn’t have to do any chemotherapy,” she says. Trish did have to complete four weeks of radiation at the Harrington Cancer Center and completed her last treatment on May 17.  “It was really interesting because I started this journey on December 17, and ended it on May 17,” says Patricia. “Even though I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was the best diagnosis I could have wished for. I didn’t miss anything going on with my family and was able to be there for the births of two grandchildren.”

Patricia also shares how through the entire experience, she found support from a surprising group. “The day I received the call from Bobby with my diagnosis, I was very emotional, but finally pulled myself together to go pick up my morning coffee at Starbucks.” When Patricia tried to order her usual drink, a young man told her the latte machine was broken and suggested a different drink for her to try. “He brought the drink to me, asked if I liked it, and said that it was on him after apologizing for the broken machine,” shares Patricia. “I was so appreciative and told him ‘I’m only sharing this with you because you never know how something so small can mean so much to someone else and its so huge what you are doing right now.’ I then told him how I had been diagnosed that very morning.” Patricia saw tears begin to roll down the young man’s cheeks as he told her he had lost his mother and sister to breast cancer. “That is when I started a loving friendship with him and eventually the rest of the team at Starbucks. It was just amazing. I would look forward to picking up my coffee because I knew they would make me smile and they would get me through my day. 

Over the next few months, Patricia was able to get to know several of the young employees working at Starbucks as they shared with her how they had lost a mother or grandmother to cancer. “They started writing me cute little notes on my coffee cup and it would just make my morning,” she shares. “It was just really amazing all of the people I met along the way and very special.” On Patricia’s last day of treatment, she made it a day of celebration. From picking up her coffee and taking pictures with her friends from Starbucks, to taking pictures at the Cancer Center, she made it a day she would never forget.

Fast-forward to today, Patricia is doing great and attended her one-month checkup in June. “I just have to go twice a year for my checkups for the next two years,” she shares. “I absolutely love everyone at Harrington Breast Center. From the time you walk in the door, they are just angels and were so good to me. I can’t say enough good things about that place.”

Patricia also shares how this experience has changed her outlook on life. “I was just sailing through life, but now I really see things and I truly am a good listener.” She also feels like she is a good advocate for early detection through annual mammograms. “I tell all of my friends, ‘go get your mammograms!’ I am 50 and some of my friends who are my age do not go and get theirs and I don’t understand why. I never thought about why I was going to get my mammogram, I just knew it was something you go do once you turn 40. It needs to become a routine.”