For decades, cancer dominated Patricia Fail’s life. She lost a husband to prostate cancer in 1996. In 1999, Patricia developed an ossifying fibromyxoid tumor (OFMT) in her leg. It’s a rare and abnormal soft tissue tumor, and was treated with radiation and surgery. She lost her grandmother, an aunt and a cousin to breast cancer, and four more cousins to other cancers. Her current husband, Bob Ward, had a lung removed in 2018 to treat lung cancer. So Patricia’s commitment to the fight against cancer isn’t without basis.
Patricia grew up in Kansas, where her early years of education were in a one-room schoolhouse. Always enchanted by science, Patricia focused on biological studies through college, but it wasn’t enough to quench her thirst for the field. She went on to earn a master’s degree in zoology at Kansas State University, followed by two PhDs at Michigan State University: one in physiology and another in dairy science. She was surrounded by scientists working on cancer.
Patricia had a wonderfully long career in biological sciences. For 30 years, she worked on testing chemicals and their effects on the reproductive system for the contract research institute RTI International in North Carolina. She recently decided to hang up her lab coat on the sunny shores of central Florida, where she and Bob are enjoying retirement.
Since her own battle with cancer and after losing so many loved ones, Patricia has learned to cherish “how precious life is.” She says, “The thing I appreciate most is other people. I just try to appreciate people whether they are on my radar screen or not. I’ve become a lot more sensitive about how people treat each other.”
Patricia and Bob understand the importance of eating healthily and staying physically active as a way of preventing secondary cancers and living a healthy life. They try their hardest to walk two or three times a week. Up next, Patricia and Bob plan to join a health club that offers personal training and fitness classes.
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