PANAMA CITY BEACH- Tuesday, October first, is the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness month. All month long NewsChannel 7 "Today" will be featuring special stories about local women who are fighting the disease with courage. NewsChannel 7's Meredith TerHaar introduces us to an inspiring woman who has one difference in her life that makes her battle unique.
Christina Pate is one of those people that once you meet her, you'll never forget her. She is high energy and exudes optimism. Like many other women, she is facing breast cancer, but there is one difference in her life, that makes her battle unique.
Monday through Friday you'll find Chris Pate in her office at Naval Support Activity Panama City, serving our country as an inventory management specialist for the Navy's LCAC hovercraft program. "I love it, thoroughly love it," said Chris. It's a big job for someone small in stature, but giant in spirit. "She doesn't let that hinder her any type of way," said Leilani Sandle, a coworker.
Just 50 inches tall, 4'2", Chris has Robinow's syndrome, a very rare skeletal development disorder, with fewer than 200 cases known worldwide. "I'm the oldest living documented case. I'm kind of like a pioneer. I don't know what to expect and yet I need to know what to expect in order to help them know what to expect so they can use me as a guide."
Colleagues say she's like a force of nature in the office, a key member of the team. "She is one of the most involved employees that I have. She is involved in the diversity council, she is the chair of it," said Rosaline Echevarria, her supervisor.
So it's no surprise to them that she's tackling breast cancer head on. "She he is so full of energy and very charismatic. She is truthfully a source of inspiration for everybody," said Rosaline. "I have too much to do with my life and for my life and for my family that I just can't stop and drop and bow down to this. I'm bigger than this," said Chris.
Daignosed in December of 2012, she's now undergoing daily radiation treatments, her glow-in-the-dark sessions as she calls them. "I'm sure there are side effects to the radiation. I've heard about a few of them, I might know them but I'm not going to sit there and go "OK, this is supposed to happen now." If it happens, it happens. So far so good," said Chris.
She's leaning on the prayers and support of her friends and colleagues, as well as her husband, who has muscular dystrophy. The two are a great encouragement to each other. "We just keep going, once you sit down and rest, we get stoved up. If you keep moving... you can't hit a moving target, so not gonna to hit me, I'm moving," said Chris.
Her outlook offers encouragement to anyone facing a struggle. "I don't associate with negative, I can't deal with pouty people. Oh whoa is me, I don't deal with that. I try to find the positive, a way out... it may not be the easy way out... but you are not stuck," said Chris.
A mammogram found Chris' estrogen-positive cancer which was stage 3. Her doctors say once the radiation is complete her prognosis is excellent.
Remember, the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk is coming up on October 26th. Just click on the link provided to register.