Diagnosed in February 2011
Pam Brajak Mady
Pam is adamant that her story is not unique. An awful diagnosis can come to anyone at any time. In the years that followed her treatment, she didn’t feel that her story was relevant. Now, 12 years later, Pam says her existence is her story.
“I’m still here.”
If even just one person feels hopeful because Pam shared her experience, then she’ll know she made the right decision to participate as a 2023 Lock Out Cancer Ambassador.
Am I Truly Ready To Open Up About My Cancer Diagnosis?
Pam received her diagnosis back in February of 2011. Here’s how she describes the moment she found out:
I remember every moment. Where I was sitting, where the doctors were standing, how the room looked and felt. Everything was moving in slow motion.
Cancer. I felt the word before it was said.
It’s both bizarre and fascinating how many thoughts and emotions flashed through my mind in that instant. Would my kids be OK? My poor husband – with a sick wife. How would I tell my parents?
At the same time, I could tell how concerned the doctors were for me. In the midst of the million+ thoughts in my head, my first instinct was to comfort THEM. I remember cracking a joke. Looking back, I guess it was easier to feel their pain than my own.
Pam describes her experience with cancer:
I was diagnosed when I was 43 years old. I was enjoying a wonderful marriage with my husband David, and our children who were eleven and two at the time. The diagnosis was Stage 1 Triple Negative Breast Cancer. While logically I understood the odds were in my favour – the terror of knowing I was walking around with cancer cells overwhelmed me in a way I didn’t know possible.
The loss of control was unsettling, so regaining it suddenly became paramount. I kept the diagnosis quiet, instructing a few close family and friends that nothing should change, no pity was to be given, and under no circumstance was anyone to give me the sad-faced “how are you?” I didn’t want my kids to feel scared or assume anyone else’s worry.
It took me ten years to talk about my experience – to share that I had cancer and to reference it as something in my past. For some of us, cancer is a constant voice in the back of our minds. Every ache, pain or cough triggers the fear that ‘it’s back’.
I felt like my secret was part of my protection. I kinda still do.
I was told the way I handled it was ‘brave’, that I was strong. Far from it. I hid my fear and did what most people do in times of crisis. My best. Nothing about me, or what happened to me was special. Just another person with a scary diagnosis. I still don’t say I’m a ‘survivor’, but I’m surviving. I’m here. 12 more years to love my family, contribute to my community, and embarrass my children with my kitchen dance moves.
So damn lucky.
What was it like to receive treatment at the Windsor Regional Cancer Centre?
My treatment plan included a double mastectomy, eight rounds of chemotherapy, reconstruction, and a hysterectomy. The staff at the Windsor Regional Cancer Centre became family. They knew things happening in my life that most didn’t. They gave me the extra love, comfort and encouragement I needed. They filled me with positivity, joined me in laughing through the crazy moments, and most importantly, they healed me. I never doubted their advice and guidance. I’m here because of them, my devoted husband David, my brilliant girlfriend Sue and my amazing Family Doc – Dr. Lisa Jansen.
After facing cancer, what’s something you want to share with others?
Be kind. You really don’t know what someone may be experiencing to make them irritable (hello steroids!), sad or unwelcoming.
Pay attention. Has it been months since you’ve heard from a friend? Have they declined every invite? Maybe it’s time for a visit to check in.
Trust the pros. We have an amazing Cancer Clinic with staff who will devote themselves to your survival.
Ask for help. Don’t be shy about asking for a ride, someone to take your kids to a movie, a visit to make you laugh, a casserole!
Chemo is just medicine. You may be imagining the chemo from decades ago. Don’t. So many side effects can be managed now. It really is manageable.
People survive. Don’t assume the worst about cancer.
2023 Lock Out Cancer Ambassador
Pam Is One Of Five 2023 Lock Out Cancer Ambassadors
Every year, Ambassadors are chosen for their willingness to share their story, and raise awareness in support of local cancer patients in our community. In 2022, there were an average of 50 women in for Radiation treatment and 40 women in for Systemic (chemotherapy) treatment, PER DAY. In that same timeframe, women accounted for over 57,000 visits to the Windsor Regional Cancer Centre for treatment and care.
100% of funds raised from our Lock Out Cancer campaign stay local. This campaign funds initiatives that reduce wait times, provides added comfort, and helps keep more patients close to home while receiving treatment. 2023 Ambassadors (pictured) are Tina Roy, Paula DeVito, Dr. Sindu Kanjeekal, Pam Mady, and Kathleen Turner. Each has a unique and powerful story to share.