Patricia Snyder and her sister Betsy Prince are close as they have worked together for 14 years and play together. It all began with an annoying cough, preliminary diagnosis was bronchitis. When she began coughing so hard and saw fresh blood, Prince accompanied her sister to the doctor and insisted that he order an X-ray of Snyder’s chest. Prince also stated that she was rubbing her sister’s back when she felt a large lump and was concerned. The doctor immediately referred Snyder to an oncologist.
After a thorough examination by Dr. Stewart Sharp, an oncologist in Little River, Snyder was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer, Sarcomatoid Carcinoma. It is biphasic tumors characterized by a combination of malignant and mesencymal cells that develop into the tissue of the lymphatic and circulator systems. This cancer generally effects men (90 percent) and rarely strikes females (10 percent); there is a 0.3 to 1 percent of the world population that gets this form of cancer, 20 percent of patients live 5 years and 80 percent live 7 months.
As frightening as this diagnosis the worst is there is no cure and many doctors do not know how to treat it. Dr. Stewart Sharp, an oncologist in Little River, began treating Snyder by first removing the bottom part of her right lung where many tumors had attached to the tissue; she then began a regiment of radiation. Snyder also has three masses on her back and one attached to her thoracic wall. The remaining tumors are inoperable though with treatment the prognosis is seven months to five years. Prince said, “She’s gotten to the 7 month mark, we have faith that she will continue to be able to fight off more tumors developing.” Beginning in September Snyder has been receiving chemotherapy on Mondays and Tuesdays for a 3.5 hour chemo treatment each week. Snyder said, “I have a port which is helpful, it will last up to five years.”
A year and one-half ago Snyder lost her husband, Carl, in a shooting after giving someone a ride home from the Food Lion in Columbus County. She said he was a retired officer in the Navy, was a kind person and helped anyone;” she continued, “and he dies on American soil.” Snyder is not fighting this battle alone; she has four sisters who are giving their hearts and souls to helping her to overcome so many of the obstacles involved with cancer treatment. Prince says that after each treatment they get a banana split milkshake to build up Snyder’s energy. “Everyone is gaining weight,” says Prince, “but Patricia is losing weight.” Snyder says she is eating healthier now.
In support of the chemo taking the long blonde locks from Snyder, her twin sister Pamela Roldan, and sisters Barbara Ann Jenkins, Prince and Charity Morrin said if she was to lose her hair to chemo, they will support her by shaving off all their hair. “Low and behold, she did lose her hair and we were all feeling we didn’t really want to shave our heads,” says Jenkins, “but because we are a team we did it!” There was one hold-back and that was Morrin, she just didn’t feel comfortable losing her long brown hair. Snyder said, “She didn’t have to shave her head, she supports me in so many other ways that are more helpful to me.” Marlisa’s Wigs in Little River gives Seacoast patients who lose their hair to treatment a wig valued at $300 to the person at no charge. She also provided Snyder with the products to treat the hair and training of how to take care of the wig.
This family is fighting the battle of cancer although their bodies are healthy because they are not just sisters, they are best friends. They come from a large Catholic background and have taken the middle names of two and the first name of one as their motto, we have faith, hope and charity to see my sister through, the four said in unison.
Fundraisers and donations have helped Snyder through one of the most difficult times of her life. She has appreciated all who have supported her monetarily or by visiting and bringing something to eat to help to build up her strength.
When meeting with these sisters the only one who is quietly sitting back listening is Snyder. Although she and her identical twin are the oldest of the girls, they are her voice, they will answer questions posed to Snyder, and all tend to talk at one time. Each has a story to tell about this battle, but each one believes in the faith of God that she will overcome this and a miracle will be given to a kind-hearted lady.