The Bald and the Beautiful
Nearly clean shaven Pat Garrard smiles at friends and family while her husband Jim looks on from behind. Pat has been diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time and will start chemotherapy this week.
The strength of the human spirit isn't often shown by one defining characteristic, but one family is banding together to prove there are moments in life when hope can appear in a physical form. And when it does the results are undeniably remarkable.
Family members of Lake Point resident Patricia Garrard rallied around her at the Lake Point fire station Monday night to shave their heads to show their support of her fight against breast cancer.
Garrard, 47, had her first bout with breast cancer back in 2003. It was at that time she underwent chemotherapy treatment and had a mastectomy. After a tough battle she was believed to be cancer free.
At the time of her treatment she was also fighting another battle. She was losing a son to cancer as well.
Her son had been diagnosed with cancer at the age of 7, then again at 17 and 21. He was unable to overcome the disease and passed away in 2005.
Just as the family tried to overcome its history with cancer, Garrard's doctors told her in the spring of this year the disease had returned once again. This time, the cancer had spread to her hip bones, liver, lungs and brain lining. The outlook was devastating: doctors told her she only has about one year to live.
But Garrard and her family are bravely fighting the odds, coming together to show support and shave their heads just as Patricia gets ready to start another round of chemotherapy.
About 30 family members and friends showed up to the hair shaving party. Kady Newland, Garrard's niece, was the first one to say goodbye to her short blond locks.
"I just didn't want Pat to feel so alone in what she's going through," she said.
It wasn't long after, that about 15 others gladly volunteered to be bald in support of the cause. The family appeared to be in good spirits as they applauded after every haircut, shared some laughs and then some tears.
Garrard was so overwhelmed by her family's support she could only show her emotions with one word: "Wow."
She said words couldn't describe her feelings because a thank you would be so inadequate.
"This really does make you feel amazingly loved," she said.
Patricia's daughter-in-law, Leeann Garrard, organized the event and said she just wanted her mother-in-law to know she was not alone in this fight.
"She's our hero. She's our mom," Leeann said. "She is so loving, she would give you the shirt off her back. This is just the little bit that we could do for her."
The family's fight is not an uncommon one in the U.S., as one in eight women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in her lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.
But there is hope shining brightly on the horizon, as breast cancer death rates are steadily decreasing thanks to earlier detection and improved treatment options.
The family has set up a fund for Patricia at Tooele Federal Credit Union, because the treatment costs are much more than the Garrards' insurance will cover. Patricia is being forced to leave her job, so she can try to recover from her rigorous treatment schedule. Donations can be made at any TFCU branch and will go toward treatment and medication.