June 18, 2012
We are pleased to introduce Pamela Mielnik of Alexandria, VA as the new Co-Chair of the Survivors Committee for the National Race to End Women’s Cancer. Pam joins Jenny McGihon, also of Alexandria, who chaired the committee last year and has been a passionate advocate for raising awareness and research funding for gynecologic cancers.
Last year, Pamela was a young (36), healthy marathon runner who ate well and had never smoked. On her return from three years abroad in Europe, she started to miss periods. Because Pamela did not fit the usual profile for problems, her gynecologist decided to monitor her for several months — until she began experiencing irregular bleeding. When an ultrasound detected polyps, the doctor said, “not to worry, 95% of polyps are benign.” Pathology results following a routine hysterocopy, however, showed that Pamela had Stage 1, Grade 3 endometrial cancer.
During Pamela’s surgery six weeks after diagnosis, she suffered nerve damage that left her without any movement in one leg. Released after eight days with walkers and grab bars, her family physician referred her to a neurologist who admitted her to St. Mary’s Medical Center, where a wonderful physiatrist team began intensive physical therapy as the neurologist ran new tests. Three weeks later, she moved her big toe, her foot and then her leg. “Thank goodness for my marathon training; my muscles remembered.”
Unfortunately Pamela’s pelvic floor had also been damaged, but six months of grueling weekly therapy has her walking and functioning normally again. She received chemotherapy and brachytherapy radiation treatments from the Kimmel Cancer Center, with a new set of doctors whose dynamic, comprehensive approach addressed complications caused by her nerve damage and a port infection which necessitated a third surgery. Incredibly, she continued to work throughout her treatments and hospitalizations. “Working allowed me to maintain my identity and be more than just a cancer patient. This endeavor took a supportive family structure and I’m especially grateful to my identical twin sister Jennifer, who was by my side throughout this entire ordeal.”
Pamela is currently two months into remission and is eager and excited to assist the Foundation for Women’s Cancer raise awareness for all women who face similar challenges. She still has the same dreams and aspirations she had a year ago but knows they will be tempered by circumstance. She is infinitely grateful to her doctors and to everyone who supported her in every possible way. You cannot go this path alone!
Please join Pamela and Jennie by registering for the National Race to End Women’s Cancer on Nov. 4th in Washington, DC. Whether you can join us in person or only in spirit, registering for the race helps us raise awareness and research funding to prevent, detect, treat and defeat gynecologic cancers. Thank you!