Patti Waggoner Takes Control After Battle With Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Posted Aug 24 2008 3:46pm
After a traumatic young-adult period, she becomes a high school teacher intent on helping doctors understand the effects of pediatric cancer survival.
WHEN Patti Waggoner saw a baby-size tuxedo displayed in a department store, she didn't think "wedding" or "baptism" or any sort of celebration. "My first thought was, 'Oh, a little casket suit,' " she says.
There's a bleak side to this 36-year-old survivor of Hodgkin's lymphoma from Valley Village. Her skin is pale, her nails painted black. Tattoos circle her ankles and run down her back and upper arms: of pirates, bats and the seven deadly sins.
Death brushed by her early, when she was 17, and she's thought about it a lot since then. "I was on a ward with 13 kids, and eight of them died," she says. "There was all this young suffering and death around. . . . I just remember that I would have given anything to be a normal teenager. The pain was so bad: the bone ache, everything from your gums hurting to rashes to puking bile from your lower intestines."
The tattoos, she says, are a way of doing with her body what she chooses, not what berserk cancer cells dictate.