By BeckyLynn Schroeder
Discovering a world beyond cancer treatment
Proton alum Kathleen Patti, age 22, is discovering a world beyond treatment for rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare tumor of the soft tissues. Read more about her cancer treatment here. As a student at her “dream school,” Florida State University, she is enrolled in the university’s prestigious communications program and has plans to travel the world.
“The past will always shape who I am but I’m also at a weird point in my life. I’m eight years cancer free and, even with twice-a-year routine scans and tests, I’m also just starting to feel more and more like there’s a whole other world after treatment and an endless number of paths I can explore.”
Among the paths she envisions exploring are enrolling in a study abroad program and landing a “dream job” as a host on a Travel Channel program.
Growing up with cancer, Kathleen got to be comfortable with her “cancer path” and wants to hold on to what she has learned by helping others who are undergoing cancer treatment. This summer, she is working as an intern for the Live for Today Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Jacksonville, Florida, whose mission is to offer help and support to young adults ages 18-35 with cancer. Kathleen joined the organization herself when she turned 18 and was experiencing a rough transition to an adult system from the pediatric health team she’d been working with since she was seven years old.
“Cancer is a weird thing. After going through it, it’s like you meet the one group of people that you never really wanted to know but, looking back, can’t imagine your life without,” Kathleen said. “The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute still stands out as one of the favorite places I went throughout my whole cancer experience. Everyone was so helpful and kind and it continues to be one of the happiest memories of my treatment.”