Every woman’s cancer story is different. For many survivors, it was the support they received from loved ones, physicians and sometimes random strangers, which changed their lives the most.
Pamela Kitchings Velez can attribute to that.
“I was so shocked, and the fear of dying when I heard the word ‘cancer.’ I did not know anything about cancer as I am the first family member to have it,” said Velez. “I’d been going for years and had cysts. I didn’t think it was cancer.”
When she was diagnosed in May 2011, she said she drew her strength first from her family.
“I think it brought us closer. I spend a lot of time with my family. My two children (Ryan and Rachel Gregory) are my biggest supporters,” said Velez, who underwent a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation as part of her treatment.
She also said her parents and brother were there every step of the way.
Another source of support was and continues to be her Pink Magnolias group.
“My support group is just awesome,” she said.
Members were there to answer her questions from their own experiences with cancer. Their help was so vital to her that she continues to be part of the group so she can help newly diagnosed patients and those going through treatment.
She participates with the Pink Magnolias when members take part in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and University Hospital’s Miracle Mile Walk, which occurred on Oct. 15. The group of walkers grows every year.
“That’s exciting,” she said.
Velez is now vocal to other women about taking care of themselves and getting themselves checked out.
“I would like every woman to have a mammogram yearly,” she said. “And know if you are diagnosed, there is support. I would be willing to help anyone.”
– Charmain Z. Brackett, correspondent