28 September 2015
Patricia Lewis dislocated both arms in 2009; survived a heart attack on Mother’s Day in 2013, and was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer in 2014. Yet none of this will stop the 56-year-old from competing in her fourth Australian Masters Games.
What has kept the librarian from Campbelltown (NSW) going is her passion for sport and a determination to overcome adversity.
“I do love sport and I just do what I have to do and if it means I have to take a few steps back to go forward, that’s just what I’ll do”, said the proud mother.
Almost six years ago Lewis dislocated both arms, and snapped both her shoulders and biceps in a workplace accident. As a result she was told by doctors she may never be able to swim again, let alone participate in any throwing events.
Nevertheless, from this Saturday, Lewis will be competing in Adelaide at the 15th Australian Masters Games. It’s a chock-a-block schedule too, having signed on for all freestyle swimming events, the 2000m steeplechase, hammer throw, shot put, javelin, discus and weight throw.
“It’s something for me to focus on apart from the [cancer] treatment that I have. It helps me keep my mind off the treatment I’m having and it gives me something to look forward to”, Lewis said.
“The doctors actually told me that they doubted I’d ever be able to swim again, but I just worked really hard at my rehabilitation.”
“The fact that I can swim now is enough for me to get in there and have a go and that’s what the Masters are all about.”
Patricia won’t be the only Lewis competing at the Games this year either, with 27 year-old daughter Katie Lewis also participating alongside mum – and not for the first time.
Both Patricia and Katie travelled to the 2013 World Masters Games in Turin together and in their first Games experience, they were able share some special moments together.
“Masters is a very important part of my life and now my daughter’s life and hopefully she’ll compete through her life events as well. It’s a wonderful thing that you can do with your children,” said the mother of two.
At one stage, however, it seemed very unlikely that two would compete together in Turin or at all in the future. After a two year recovery from her workplace incident, Lewis received devastating news on the eve of the Games.
“I really didn’t think I’d make it to the starting line given the grim diagnosis,” Lewis said.
She was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer – an aggressive form that is increasingly difficult to treat. But with a positive attitude and mental resilience, Lewis was able to overcome adversity once again.
The only thing holding her back now is her heart. Having had one heart attack already – on Mother’s Day in 2013 – and the added side effects of chemotherapy, the left chamber of her heart only pumps at 40% of its capacity.
“It’s difficult sometimes, the further I go the more breathless I become. I’m not a sprinter and I have never been, so it limits your chances when you’re a long distance person and it makes it really difficult,” she said.
All the same, Lewis has been eagerly training for the Australian Masters Games, and can’t wait to reconnect with some of the friendships she has built from previous events.
“I always look forward to the Australian Masters Games because the competitors are so friendly, it’s more of a relaxed competition, and it is all about your own goal.”
“If I didn’t have the Games I think it would be easier to give in, but I’m just determined,” said three-time participant.
The 15th Australian Masters Games will be held in Adelaide, October 3-10, featuring more than 10,000 participants from across Australia and around the world.
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