As She Fights Cancer, a Woman Strives for Normalcy | NY Times

The Neediest Cases
By JOHN OTIS

Patricia Lewis, who has been fighting cancer for years, in her Harlem apartment. “It takes a whole lot of effort to psych yourself that you’re not going to die,” she said. (Photo: Ángel Franco | NY Times)

Patricia Lewis, who has been fighting cancer for years, in her Harlem apartment. “It takes a whole lot of effort to psych yourself that you’re not going to die,” she said. (Photo: Ángel Franco | NY Times)

For decades, Patricia Lewis toiled as a security guard for NYC Health & Hospitals, a duty she performed along with a second, and sometimes a third, job.

“I showered in the hospitals, I slept on gurneys and hardly came home,” Ms. Lewis, 68, recalled. All that work was to ensure her children’s potential would be realized. Ms. Lewis raised them by herself after a divorce in 1984, motivated by her vow to keep them safe and pay for their college educations.

“These children, I cannot lose them to drugs, I cannot lose them to crime,” she said. “And today, my children, all three of them, are successful. But their success, the way the world is, they cannot help me.”

Ms. Lewis left her security guard job in 2009, a year and a half after tests showed she had cancer in her left breast. The disease has returned four times since, most recently in August, despite repeated treatments of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to remove cancerous tissue.

Read more: As She Fights Cancer, a Woman Strives for Normalcy | NY Times

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