At this time last year, Pam Roe was celebrating being elected to the Red Wing (Minnesota) School Board. "I was on the highest of highs," Roe, a social worker/bereavement and volunteer coordinator for Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing, tells the Red Wing Republican Eagle.
Before her term could begin — and just five days before Christmas — however, that heady feeling would come crashing down when she found a lump in one of her breasts. Her fears were soon confirmed. "I could read my doctor's face right away. I knew," she tells the paper. "It sucked the breath right out of me."
When test results revealed that she had invasive lobular carcinoma, Pam tells the paper she knew she could allow her thoughts to go one of two ways — "sit in the darkness" or "pick up and continue on." She says it was never a choice for her. "I was never going to stay in that dark place too long," she says. "I did allow myself some time to say this sucks, woe is me. But after a few minutes, hours, sometimes a few days, you take a deep breath and keep moving forward."
Pam's path forward, the paper reports, included an aggressive, nine-month proton beam therapy treatment plan crafted by her care team at Mayo Clinic that was designed to wipe out her cancer. "They were able to map out exactly where the radiation was needed," Pam tells the paper. "The lungs and heart see much less damage with proton beam therapy."
After completing her last treatment this past September, the first thing Pam wanted from her care team was assurance that her cancer journey was in the past. As she tells the paper, however, that's unfortunately not a guarantee that can be given to any cancer patient. "My doctor told me I don't get that clean bill of health," she says. "You're told, 'You are clear now and we hope it doesn't come back.'"
Pam will continue to be monitored closely by her care team at Mayo Clinic for the next five years. And during that time, Pam says she's committed to doing everything she can to help other breast cancer patients by participating in any breast cancer-related research study or clinical trial that will have her. "I have benefitted so much from the women who have gone before me," she tells the paper. "Thinking about how far breast cancer treatment has come in 20 years, it's because of those warriors. When I think about my daughters, there is no question in my mind about trials and research. I want to give back."
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