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Running helps woman diagnosed twice

BOARDMAN — Call Patti Hall a rebel if you wish, but don’t expect any backlash from her.

“Since I got married, I’d lived in Cleveland for a while. I began to run soon after,” she recalled.

What is the connection between Hall’s desire to participate in a series of half-marathon runs and being a rebel of sorts?

It’s the fact that she was twice diagnosed with breast cancer and has not allowed that to define the direction of her life.

Hall spoke last week from her Boardman home about having been diagnosed with the disease in 2003 and again in 2015.

The first time around, Hall, then 43, conducted a self-exam that revealed a lump in her left breast, which led to a doctor’s visit and the likely need for a biopsy.

Nevertheless, Hall and her husband, Leonard, decided she should get a second opinion from the Cleveland Clinic, which resulted in a biopsy at Cleveland University Hospitals and, later, three lumpectomies followed by a series of chemotherapy and radiation treatments in summer 2003.

“The surgeon said, ‘You don’t need a mastectomy,'” said Hall, who works for Seven Seventeen Credit Union as a personal-service representative.

Despite the grim news, Hall and her husband did their best to reassure their three school-aged children that things would work out, Leonard said.

Things did — for a while. After about 10 years’ worth of clean follow-up exams, Hall was told she had a mere 5 percent chance of getting the disease again.

In January 2015, the cancer returned to her left breast.

“The radiologist said, ‘I don’t see anything major, but something is there, so you need to have a biopsy,'” said Hall, who pointed to the irony of having been diagnosed on the same day her daughter’s boyfriend proposed marriage to her.

She ended up having a mastectomy instead and, at the same time, a plastic surgeon performed reconstructive surgery to the affected area, mainly by using muscle and fatty tissue from her abdomen, Hall said.

“It’s quite amazing what they can do,” she said.

Consequently, she was deemed to be as healthy as possible for her daughter’s wedding that June. About five months later, Hall found herself running in her first half-marathon Nov. 7, 2015, in Indianapolis, with her husband, three children and son-in-law joining her.

By 2016, the stage was set for Hall to show how steadfastly she refused to allow breast cancer to stop or slow her down. That year, after the Indianapolis event, she was in a 10K run in Cincinnati, followed by two half-marathons in 2017 and 2018 in Youngstown and Cleveland, respectively.

What’s the next major item on Hall’s plate? You guessed it: another half-marathon — this time Nov. 23 in Philadelphia, where her daughter, Lyndsie, lives.

Hall and her husband also have taken part in several Panerathon 5K and two-mile run and walks to help raise mon-ey for the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital.

For those freshly diagnosed with breast cancer or struggling to cope with it, Hall advised to be grateful for how far medical advances have come regarding the disease. It’s also valuable to read as much as possible and keep oneself educated, she said.

Along those lines, she recommended “Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book,” which has been revised several times since its initial publication in early 1990. Hall also mentioned “The Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer Book,” a resource to help women and their loved ones better understand the disease, make informed decisions regarding their care and deal with the physical and emotional effects of a diagnosis and treatment.

“I just think it’s good to educate yourself,” she said.

Also helpful to the entire family has been a strong faith in God and a deeply rooted belief that the best outcome would be realized, Leonard said.

“Just realize God’s in control of it.”