Woman inspired by her mom's courage, caringAnnette Yoshizumi of La Crosse was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, two days before Christmas.
By: Steve Cahalan, La Crosse Tribune, Superior Telegram
Annette Yoshizumi of La Crosse was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, two days before Christmas.
She's grateful for the advice and moral support of her mother, Pat Mattie of La Crosse, and inspired by her mother's successful fight against breast cancer in 1995.
And she's still inspired by what her mom did one winter's day in the 1960s in downtown La Crosse. Mattie was driving her car with her five children inside, saw an old man shivering as he walked without a coat, rushed home and got one of her husband's coats, then drove around downtown until she found the man again. She put the coat over his shoulders after he tried to decline the gift.
Yoshizumi recounts those experiences and her love for Mattie in a Mother's Day essay printed below.
Mattie was driving near the public library when she saw the old man with no coat. "She said 'Kids, remember what he looks like -- we're going to go get one of Daddy's coats,'" Yoshizumi said last week.
"It took a long time to find him," and lots of driving up and down different streets to find him, she said. When Mattie approached, "He didn't want to take the coat, but he was very appreciative," and ultimately accepted it, Yoshizumi said.
"As such a little girl, that made a big impression on me," said Yoshizumi, now 50. Her mother is 71.
"My parents have instilled this sense of social responsibility in me and my brothers and sisters," Yoshizumi said. "We're all helpers in our professions."
Yoshizumi is human resource coordinator at Independent Living Resources in La Crosse. Her mother is a social service specialist with Western Wisconsin Cares, which provides long-term care services to senior citizens and adults with disabilities. Pat's husband, Bernie Mattie, was a city of La Crosse firefighter who retired as a captain in 1993 and died in 2007.
Pat Mattie was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995 and immediately had surgery. Her surgeon was surprised she didn't cry after hearing the diagnosis. "I was bound and determined that it was going to be fixed," Mattie explained. "I had a very good attitude."
"She came out of surgery and was smiling and talking," Yoshizumi said. "Her strength is what held us together, what helped get us through it."
Now Yoshizumi is dealing with her own cancer.
"I'm going through chemotherapy, and she keeps me strong," she said of her mother. "Mom's been there and done that. She knows it isn't fun and that it's scary. She can provide that strength and point of view that is amazing. I haven't cried, either."
Copyright (c) 2010, La Crosse Tribune/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.