Former client volunteers for SNAP during remission

Patricia Bishop in 2014 as she waits for chemotherapy during her first cancer occurrence.

“Getting diagnosed with cancer isn’t like the movies make it out to be,” Patricia Bishop says. “In the movies, you find out in one doctor’s visit. In real life, it takes several weeks and endless tests. By the end of it, you’ve already kind of accepted the cancer.”

In May 2014, Patricia received the final call from her doctor diagnosing her with Stage 2 breast cancer. She finds pride in her journey through chemotherapy and radiation, as it proved she was stronger than she realized. In just eight months, she got word from her oncologist that there was no trace of cancer in her system, and there was a good chance there never would be again.

That year while Patricia fought her disease, she benefited from SNAP energy assistance. She moved to Spokane in 1997 as a single mother with three kids in a new city. Although she consistently worked, it was still a challenge to make ends meet. She called on SNAP for help every year from 1997 until 2003, and sporadically from 2003 until 2014 when she received her last energy grant. These grants meant her daughter, a current SNAP employee, would have access to a computer to finish her book reports for class. These grants meant she could feed her teenage boys hearty meals with a stove and oven. These grants meant Patricia’s family didn’t have to huddle for warmth.

“It was a like a savior to me,” says Patricia. “It gave me such good peace of mind.”

Fortunately, Patricia can now count on her adult children to make sure her power stays on. In May 2018, Patricia found out that her cancer had metastasized to her bones. While Stage 4 breast cancer is never a diagnosis anyone wants to receive, Patricia is finding peace and solace through giving back.

Patricia and her youngest daughter, Nicole, a current SNAP employee.

“My treatments aren’t so bad now. Thank God I don’t have to have radiation,” says Patricia. “I want to volunteer for SNAP, and I’m grateful that right now, my body will let me.”

In October, Patricia volunteered nearly 20 hours for SNAP, and has been volunteering intermittently since her diagnosis in May 2018. Patricia explains that she enjoys stuffing envelopes and folding brochures – “I like to do all the stuff no one else wants to do,” Patricia laughs.

Currently, Patricia’s treatments are working to keep her cancer at bay, though she knows it will inevitably return. Patricia insists she doesn’t want to wait idly for the cancer to come back. She’s using this momentary reprieve to invest her time in SNAP, and has since learned about the 30 plus programs SNAP provides.

“I only wish I knew these programs existed back when I needed them,” Patricia laughs. “Hopefully my daughter [SNAP’s Marketing and Communications Specialist] can get the word out.”