We loved visiting with Curt Pate at last year’s Best Horse Practices Summit. He introduced his friend, Dr. Temple Grandin, and helped emcee the arena presentations with West Taylor, Amy Skinner, and Katrin Silva. What a wonderful gentleman.
So it is with great sadness and empathy that we share the news of his wife, Tammy, and her struggles with cancer.
Rather than report on their situation, we thought it better to simply share their stories. First, we hear from Curt:
Many years ago I was long trotting in real tall grass. All of a sudden my horse’s front end disappeared. He had stuck both front feet in a badger hole and went over. He wasn’t hurt and neither was I. I just stepped back on and went and got my cattle. This was back in the day of no cell phones. We were on a pretty big place and no one knew where I was, and if I had been hurt they would of had a hard time finding me.
A friend had told me several months before how you should react if your horse endos. He said you needed to prepare for it in your mind so when it happened you would react as you have no time to decide what to do.
I had prepared myself mentally and had the physical ability to do it.
Fast forward 15 years or so and I was in a whole different world. I was still horseback, but instead of big country with cattle, horses and dogs I was surrounded by asphalt and concrete and lots of interesting people. I was in North Carolina and really enjoyed visiting with a man named Gary. He had lost a son in a car accident not too long before. Gary told me that something in the future would completely change my life, and I should prepare myself for it.
Well, that change has come. Beautiful wife Tammy has some health challenges. We were trotting along in the perfect tall grass of life and all of a sudden we hit a badger hole.
We never dreamed this would happen to “us.” It hit us hard, but without really knowing it we were prepared. We have been married for more than 30 years and it seemed through all the ups and downs we were in a perfect married state of mind to ride through the wreck together.
…Tammy is very strong mentally and physically. She has created such a strong support base for us. You can’t believe how many people are praying for her. I’ve seen grown men cry when they found out, and people offering whatever they have to help us. You can’t imagine how good and confident this makes us feel.
As I look back we have always been in a long trot, sometimes at a lope, and have been on a dead runaway at times. We’ve covered more country than we could have ever imagined, stumbled a few times but have never stepped into a badger hole.
Because we are prepared, we can lean back and ride through the wreck and we believe we will come out the other side on our feet with our reins in our hands.
First, the diagnosis…I have Lobular Carcinoma Breast Cancer that is hormone positive and has metastasized to my bones. The cancer has affected my kidneys (this type of cancer likes to go to the gastrointestinal area).
My kidneys were failing so I had to have nephrostomy tubes. Hard to take at first, but I am so grateful for them as they are allowing my kidneys to function and there is no permanent damage. It is not in any of my organs. I have no pain and if it weren’t for the kidneys finally getting me to the doctor, I still would not know. I believe that all of the things I have been doing to stay healthy for years, like our infrared sauna, ph balanced water, yoga, riding my horse, eating low carb high protein diet, loving life, have all supported my immune system and kept this in check for a long time. The oncologist told us that I have most likely had cancer for years, if not decades.
I have never gone to the doctor. Did not have a mammogram. I have been super healthy, but always struggled with some “intestinal issues” that I told myself were “just me” and where my stress goes.
Over the last several months, I had back pain that would wake me up in the night. I thought it was probably sciatic or something and did yoga to relieve the pain. It wasn’t constant pain and I thought it was nothing.
So, this is the real reason I am sharing all of this: I think we in the Western culture are raised to be tough: don’t make a big deal out of things, don’t complain, don’t be a hypochondriac. That has been my attitude.
I would just deal with things.. But, there has been a little “gnawing” feeling that something wasn’t right. That is one of the reasons this diagnosis has been so hard on my ego! I practice and share yoga with people. I am supposed to “listen to my body,” follow my intuition, take care of myself first. So, why didn’t I?
This is what has come to me: this “new opportunity for growth” is teaching me is to really listen to my body and act on what it is telling me, to love myself more than anything and do whatever it takes to be healthy. That means putting myself first, which is hard for me, as I think it is for many of you.
If you have put off having a mammogram or ignored something your body is trying to tell, DON’T! Go get the colonoscopy. Get the blood work. Don’t let anyone make you feel you are over-reacting or worried about nothing. I bet everything will come back perfect and that in itself will be healing as it gives you peace of mind. And if something does show up, hopefully it will be early diagnosis.
I always talk about balance at my Horsemanship and Yoga Retreats. I wasn’t balanced. I have been so committed to being so “positive” and healthy, I have not faced reality. So, here we are. Reality is I have this disease. Reality is I have a positive outlook.. Reality is I am very healthy to fight this. Reality is there are amazing options out there for treatment.. Reality is I am not a statistic.
My favorite saying Curt shared with me when we were first married and is how we have lived our life: ”Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else!”
I am so grateful for Curt. He has not left my side for one minute. He is a great nurse, flushing my tubes and changing my nephrostomy bandages, cooking meals, doing laundry and saddling my Smoke so I get out and ride.
When I was in so much pain I couldn’t ride, he brought Smoke to the house so I could pet him. Mesa is home supporting me every minute. She gives me strength.
I want to thank everyone who has prayed and sent me “good vibes”! Please know I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
Dearest Tammy and Curt, we wish you the best!