“It’s not a good thing,” a woman said to a girl crying beside her as they left P &K MacDonald Funeral Home yesterday.
She couldn’t have been more right.
The pair had just been in for the visitation of Lorna Patchett. At 48, she had died too soon and left too many to mourn.
Inside Lorna’s husband Jamie and daughters Julie and Kelly stood as dozens trickled in and out to offer their condolences.
But even in this time of bitter sorrow, the Patchetts aren’t thinking of themselves.
Lorna was always concerned about others and never about herself and even as she was dying with cancer, her concern was for the women who might have to face the same fight she was in.
That’s why her family put “Lorna’s Wish” at the bottom of her obituary in The News this week, which encouraged women to get regular testing for cancer.
“She was always concerned about others,” Jamie said.
Cancer started warring against Lorna before she knew it existed in her body. April 24, 2012, should have been a good evening, but it wasn’t. Lorna and James had just returned home from a movie and Lorna was putting on her pajamas when she felt a lump in her left breast.
It was the start of a 299-day battle. In quick succession, the fear became reality. May 15 she had a biopsy done. May 24, she found out it was cancerous.
“The world changed that day,” says Jamie. “It’s hard to put it into words. It was like everything was in a fog. It was an awful feeling.”
Both wondered what was going to happen. On June 8, Lorna had an operation and rounds of chemotherapy started in August, but after her fifth round of it, they found out that the cancer had spread to her liver.
The type of chemotherapy was changed in an attempt to keep it at bay.
Those who knew her watched helplessly.
“When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, we came to realize that inside the sweet person we knew was the heart of a fighter,” said sister in law Dianne Fraser. “She met her battle with resolve and hope that she would be a survivor.”
And as she learned and educated herself on the disease, she realized that there was a wealth of information that, unless you were battling the disease, women were basically unaware of. She became adament that we must become aware of the risks and become diligent in self-examination and obtaining mammograms, Fraser said.
“Women cannot take it for granted that it won't happen to me,” Fraser said. “There will be an enormous void in the lives of her family and her friends. She was many things to many people who were fortunate to know and love her. Everyone of us hoped and prayed that she would be one of the lucky ones, that she would be a survivor. That was not to be Lorna's fate.”
James remembers his wife’s courage and compassion for others through it all.
“After work I’d meet her and we’d always go for a walk.”
Often she’d express her frustration to him that women don’t know the risks.
They walked until she had no more strength for it.
Last Friday, a doctor came out, sat down in their home and told them she would die within three to five weeks. Saturday she slipped away.
“It was very devastating,” Jamie said.
He and Lorna had been married for 27 years, but their relationship stretched much farther back than that. Lorna had captured his heart when she was just 15. When she was 16 he proposed and when she was 21 they married.
Today, he will hold a funeral for his love. He will hug his daughters and along with the dozens will mourn her loss.
He had 299 days after they found the lump. He wishes it were more.
“When she and her family realized that her battle was coming to an end, she decided that she needed people to learn from her story and that if her message would save even one woman's life,” said Fraser, “then her death would not have been in vain.”
Lorna’s Wish as written by her family
When Lorna found the lump in her left breast God began to take her on a 299 day journey. As all who loved and knew Lorna would bear witness to the importance of women to have a mammogram every year, not two years. Take the time for yourself and do a self-examination every day; 740 women will be diagnosed this year with breast cancer and 160 mothers, daughters, sisters, wives will die.
On Twitter: @NGNewsAdam