An Interview with Pati Beck
Last year (October 2019), while Annie and the team were away in Houston for the Quilt’s INC. Fall Market & Festival, we had the opportunity to sit down and chat with one of our dear friends-- Pati Beck. Pati Beck is a long-arm quilter and ByAnnie Soft and Stable cutter.
Pati was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2019. Pati’s treatment consisted of a mastectomy and daily radiation treatment for an entire month. We are so thankful she agreed to our interview and so willingly shared her experience.
The story begins...
Pati has been sewing for over 45 years. While living in Wyoming she sewed her children’s clothing, including suits and wedding dresses.
Over 20 years ago, Pati moved to St. George, Utah, and was invited to join a local quilting guild. New in town and not knowing anyone, she was hesitant to commit to a guild. It was the warm friendship of Annie and a few others that ultimately drew her in and made her feel welcome.
She would learn so many skills in this quilting guild that she decided she never wanted to fit another person for garments again!
Shortly after joining the guild, Annie called Pati and her new friends. Annie said, “We are going to enter a contest and we are going to win this contest. We are going to win a trip to Houston.” As a self-proclaimed doubtful person, Pati was impressed by Annie’s positive attitude. Annie asked Pati to draw a pattern idea with ‘friendship’ as the theme.
Without hesitation Pati began sketching on a napkin on her lunch hour. The four friends began meeting at Annie’s for long hours of laughter and quilting. This friendship quilt was one of the first patterns Annie ever sat down to write, and Pati said it was just as detailed and perfect as the patterns she writes today.
Soon after Pati, Annie, and their friends completed the quilt, they received a phone call saying they had won and would be heading to Texas! When in Houston, the group was treated like royalty by BERNINA and they had the time of their lives.
After returning home, the women donated their winning friendship quilt in an auction to benefit Youthlinc, an organization that creates lifetime humanitarians.
Youthlinc invests in the service ethic of youth in order to foster individuals in our society who understand local and global needs, and who are deeply committed to work to relieve those needs through personal service, partnership, and good will through their programs. Their friendship quilt brought in more money than some of the biggest companies in town!
Around that time, Annie started writing patterns for purses, but kept running into the same problem over and over: suitable batting!
Annie enlisted the help of Pati and her friends to experiment with different battings and foams, trying to find one that gave their projects good body and stability while still being easy to use with a domestic sewing machine.
Tired of searching, Annie went to work to develop the perfect bag stabilizer and eventually developed Soft and Stable™, which would ultimately reshape the bag making industry!
Pati said she was so grateful and proud of Annie, adding, “Annie always makes everyone feel that they are capable of doing anything.”
"Let's make you an appointment."
When we asked about her breast cancer journey, Pati started by saying, “To be truthful, I hadn’t had a mammogram in 3 years.”
Pati’s previous physician had said that because she was 65+, and had clear mammograms until then, that she didn’t need to get a regular mammogram unless she detected something.
It wasn’t until May (2019) that a new doctor told her otherwise. The new doctor asked about her mammograms and was wide-eyed to learn it had been so long since her last mammogram.
He got very serious and said to Pati, “It’s the one thing all insurances WILL pay for, and it takes fifteen minutes of your time. Let’s make you an appointment.”
The very next week, Pati had her mammogram.
Another week passed, biopsy.
Three days later, Pati was on the operating table.
She told us, “It all happened in a blur, and the word ‘cancer’ scares you to death.”
Besides the pain, discomfort, and the fear of it all, Pati feels lucky to have been pushed to get her mammogram.
Five months later (October 2019), Pati’s doctors believed they got all the cancer before it spread to any other organs.
Pati’s new job was to “stay on top of it all” and to work with her doctors to monitor her health.
Pati mentioned that the scary thing was not feeling or detecting anything wrong before her mammogram.
Regardless of what any medical board says, Pati will tell everyone who will listen, “It takes fifteen minutes of your time, go get it done!”
With our advances in medical technology, Pati doesn’t see a reason risk postponing your screenings.
Advice for the ByAnnie Community
Attitude was the most important factor in staying strong through treatments. Pati was told, no matter what, you need to get out of bed and find something to do before you rest again. Whether it’s breakfast or a shower, accomplishing that one thing matters. “Your attitude will make a difference, and cancer will not run your life.”
Pati said that the kindness shown to her helped her through the treatments. Not being a ‘doctor person,’ Pati was thankful for the compassion shown to her by each of her doctors, and the people sitting beside her in the hospital.
Hit the gong.
One special moment Pati shared was when she finished her radiation treatment.
On her last day of treatment Pati was asked to ring a gong centered in the waiting room. Pati was nervous she’d make a spectacle of herself, but she gathered the courage to ring the gong.
As Pati hit the gong, everyone in the room shouted joyfully, with tearful eyes, "CANCER BE GONE!"
Lastly, we asked Pati if she had any final words for those just beginning their own cancer journey.
“You might think it only happens to you - but you’re not alone. You see people of all ages in the cancer center. It was difficult to see young people at the cancer center with little ones still depending on them.”
Pati finished with, “Don’t wait to get your mammogram, do it for your loved ones.” Pati knows she can continue to look forward to watching her grandchildren grow because she took the fifteen minutes to get her mammogram.
Last year, Annie and the team began working to make Bosom Buddy an official pattern. We sent Pati a few of the prototypes and she helped us iron out the final details.
After Pati’s mastectomy her chest was still tender, and she developed blisters due to the radiation treatment in the area.
Every fall, Pati enjoys watching the leaves change color in the mountains of Cedar Breaks National Monument.
The Bosom Buddy seatbelt cover allows Pati to comfortably drive through the mountains and enjoy the autumn beauty.
Oct 2020: Update
A few weeks ago, we returned to chat with Pati. We sat in the warm sun beside her garden. After a minute of catching up, her health inevitably came into the conversation.
With a glowing smile Pati said, “The doctor called just last week, and I am still cancer-free!” While ecstatic, she reiterated she must remain diligent. Her doctor appointments will no longer be so frequent and a tremendous burden was lifted.
Pati genuinely expressed her deep gratitude for ALL of the medical professionals, fellow patients, and the support of her family and friends.
Pati, it was so rewarding to sit down with you and hear your story. We’re thankful that you shared it with us, and for allowing us to share it with our wonderful community. We love you and admire your strength. Thank you.
To all that took the time to read this, thank you! Remember: In roughly the same amount of time it took to read this blog, you could also attain peace of mind. Take the time to schedule your mammogram, you will be grateful to yourself for doing it.
For more personal stories and inspiring projects, visit our blog post detailing our #SewPINK blog hop! You'll get a synopsis about each #SewPINK blogger's post and links to visit the ones that interest you. And you can learn more about our #SewPINK Initiative that aims to raise breast cancer awareness HERE. Our #SewPINK Initiative page also lists resources for setting up your next mammogram.
Let us know your advice for those beginning their cancer journeys, or those with loved ones beginning their cancer journeys, in the comments below!