Meet Sister Patricia: A Story of Hope and Gratitude In the Face of Cancer

It’s not often that you start a story about cancer with the words “Thank you, God!” But in the case of Sister Patricia Rayburn, her story starts with the three words she said once she was told her cancer was completely gone. “I felt relief, gratitude, a wonderful calmness,” she says.

What kept you fighting?Sister Pat

Sister Patricia represents 61% of breast cancer survivors who found a malignant tumor at a localized stage. What kept her fighting was that her cancer was small and was taken care of with a needle biopsy and lumpectomy. “I was blessed that my cancer was caught so early … It was much easier to move forward with living each day.” Fortunately, 89% of women whose cancer is detected early live for more than five years after their cancer has been removed. A hopeful message for anyone who gets a regular mammogram.

Whom do you remember most from your journey?

Patricia reflects: “One of the very first people I confided in—who was so supportive and who offered guidance—was Dr. Robert Wiebe, Chief Medical Officer for Dignity Health. I received my diagnosis the day before we had the Bay Area Dignity Health Open Forum (with hundreds of attendees!) at which both Dr. Wiebe and I were among the presenters. He took time to listen, offer support and help guide me through the process.”

“Also, several of my friends were just great about being ‘there’ without being overly ‘there.’”

Sister Patricia’s advice for those going through it

“Know yourself and what will be supportive for you. It might be talking to friends or family. Maybe check out group programs that offer guidance in exercise, diet and so on. Or it might be more quiet time, a walk, a swim, or journaling. What works for one person is what works for one person,” she says.

While reflecting on her own journey, Sister Patricia remembers a special memory during this challenging time: “I had an amazing and incredibly spiritual experience walking through the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco under the artist-in-residence’s creation of ribbons.

“It was the moment of blessings, joy, hope, peace, and being fully loved and embraced by God to the point that I felt the cancer moving out and disappearing.”


If you haven’t been screened already, we hope this story will inspire you to get screened at a facility near you. To schedule a mammogram in your area:

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