Pat Becraft takes it as it comes and gets on with life

Pat Becraft keeps busy – just about all the time. Her mantra "take it as it comes and deal with it" covers all aspects of her life from helping her daughters raise their children to managing life with kidney cancer. 

In 2004, Pat learned that she had renal cell carcinoma. She came to The Bobbi Lewis Cancer Program at Good Samaritan for care because we are close to her home in Sloatsburg. "Receiving local care makes it easier for me to go about my daily routine and stay active," she said.

Pat has had multiple surgeries, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. She's currently on her third course of chemo. "It can take a while to get the dose right, and that can be tough, but I am OK with it because I'm doing well," she says.

Pat and her oncologist Dr. Bhardwaj were no strangers. He had cared for both her mother-in-law and her mother. 

"In one way or another, I've been seeing Dr. Bhardwaj for about 20 years. He is a brilliant oncologist who keeps current with new treatments," Pat says. She is grateful that Dr. Bhardwaj explains her disease and her options thoroughly. He gives her complete information so can make smart decisions.  

"The office staff is fantastic, too, and that makes a big difference," Pat said. "Before I first went there, I thought it would be a heartbreaking place. Instead, it is a place of caring, hope and action. It's an environment that empowers people to deal with their cancer.  Each time I leave the office, I have a plan of action for how I'm going to stay healthy and beat this."

She has monthly office visits and says that each time she wraps up an appointment, she leaves feeling renewed and ready to take on another month.

How cancer has changed Pat's outlook

"It sounds cliché', but it is true: when you have cancer you're thankful for every day," Pat reflects. "Each day is a gift." She goes on to explain that you never know if a dinner with friends will be your last, if other events will be the last. 

"I've always been thankful," she says, "But now I am even more thankful for my family and friends. Every day, I thank God for everything that I can do. I always look at the positive because there is always something good out there."

Pat has also become more empathetic to the struggles facing people with disabilities. "I've only had to deal with trouble getting around for a couple of years, but others have dealt with that their whole lives.  It can be very hard getting daily tasks done, and I get angry when I see people do things like take a handicapped parking spot if they are not disabled. People should be more sensitive to what others may be going through."

A little more about Pat

Age 62, Pat retired after working for the phone company for 33 years. She held various positions there, most recently as a manager in the Call Center where more than 20 employees reported to her. She's lived in Sloatsburg for 39 years.

Helping to raise her three grandchildren is one of her greatest pleasures. Pat and her husband Jim live in the same house with their three daughters and grandchildren aged 4, 10 and 17.

Pat has been the Girl Scout leader for granddaughter Isabella's troop for six years. Her involvement with scouting, however, goes back much longer. In the 90s, she led the Scout's Winter World survival skills program where the girls learned self-sufficiency while camping in the bitter cold of winter. "I learned as much as the kids," she says. "Seeing the girls' expressions of accomplishment was just great."  Pat maintains that it's very important for young girls to challenge themselves so they can grow into strong women.

Working in her garden and reading are also activities Pat enjoys. She's especially tied to "Game of Thrones", but is quick to say that "Gone with the Wind" is her all-time favorite. 

Pat and Jim will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in April. She's looking at possible vacations in the Caribbean or in Florida to mark the occasion, but she'd also be happy to stay in town and celebrate by just being together.

"I still feel young, and I cannot believe our 40th anniversary in coming up," she laughs. "But then, I look at our old pictures and I see the passage of time!"