In 2009, Pat McKnight went to her general practitioner over foot swelling concerns and was referred to podiatrist Dr. Nancy Kaplan. A few PET scans later, she heard Kaplan tell her she was going to need her family, as the tests showed a cancerous growth. "Dr. Kaplan is a very caring person and she was very concerned about how I was going to take this news, but she didn't realize how strong I am and how much stock I put into positive thinking," McKnight said.
On March 18, 2010, McKnight had surgery to remove a nine-inch tumor from her foot that was unlike anything the surgeon had ever seen. It was sent to the Mayo Clinic for a biopsy, and about a week later, she received a diagnosis of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.