Profession: Community Health Worker/Health Educator
Type of Breast Cancer: Ductal carcinoma in situ
Number of years as a survivor: 14 years
Relationship to Susan G. Komen: Grantee, Race Participant and Advocate
My name is Pamela and I am a breast cancer survivor. People often ask me how breast cancer has affected my life. And my response is simple – breast cancer did not affect my life, it consumed it.
My journey to recovery led to a new beginning. Since my diagnosis, I have devoted myself to helping cancer patients. Initially, I worked from home. Then I moved on to a small room in my church. My goal was to provide women in under-served communities, women like me, with guidance and assistance. I wanted to show these women that there was information and resources available to them.
In 2006, I established a cancer support center for women of color named The Beautiful Gate. Through The Beautiful Gate, I have been able to provide numerous seminars and support group sessions for women of color diagnosed with cancer. We were very fortunate, in that time, to receive a grant from Susan G. Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale to continue to provide these programs for women in need. These women and their families are able to discuss their problems, fears and concerns, while receiving scientific evidence about cancer, not just myths and taboos. Stress Management was included in our sessions so that the trauma caused by their illness could be alleviated. To me, this element was so important because I felt without it they would lose hope.
Helping others has done more than keep me going in the 14 years since my diagnosis, it has helped me heal. There have been many times when I wanted to give up, and then I would meet someone who was scared and I was pulled back in. In those moments I always thought to myself, “how dare you give up.” I know now that being a survivor means that I have another day to be a blessing to someone else.
Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer it seemed like my life was very simple, and it was because it lacked meaning. I didn’t start living until I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was alive like I had never been before. It became my ministry, my calling, my purpose in life. If I could choose one word to describe this incredible journey of 14 years, it would be worthy.