Four years before being diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer, Pam had felt a lump in her breast. She had immediately scheduled a visit to the office of her doctor. When she met with her doctor, she asked to have a mammogram. At that time Pam was only 34 years old.
Pam’s doctor knew that few women developed breast cancer at such an early age. He did not see any reason for her to have a mammogram. Lacking any helpful materials from a Canadian breast cancer society, that doctor told Pam that, in his judgment, the lump in her breast was no more than evidence of a calcified milk duct.
By 1988 it had become clear that Pam should have been encouraged to have a mammogram. The removal of Pam’s breast initiated a long series of painful medical procedures. Pam’s husband, parents and other family members lent their support throughout all of those procedures.
Sometimes Pam’s friends and family had questions for her doctors. Often the doctors would show them findings from highly technical reports. Pam’s friends and family did not have a medical background. They did not have access to materials from any sort of Canadian breast cancer society. Pam’s friends and family struggled to interpret the information that they were given.
Pam’s parents could not understand why their young daughter had contracted breast cancer. They did not know of any other women on either side of the family who had had breast cancer. Only later did they discover that one of Pam’s great aunt’s, an aunt on her mother’s side, had had breast cancer.
No one in Pam’s family had divulged that fact. It had been a family secret. Pam’s family had then lived in a society that frowned on mention of the word “breast.” Was it any wonder that such a society had no organization focused on raising awareness about breast cancer and breast cancer research?
As the cancer from Pam’s breast spread through her body, the effort to destroy it slowly suffered a number of losses. That effort had its final loss when Pam’s heart failed; she was kept alive with special drugs. Finally her family decided to free her from her invasive and painful life support measures.
Pam’s family remained strong throughout their ordeal. Pam’s father has remarked that when Pam died, no doctor came to console the family. Pam’s father was quite aware of the need for some sort of Canadian breast cancer society.
Before Pam died, Pam’s parents and husband, along with her friends, founded the Breast Cancer Society of Canada. They then worked tirelessly to aid the Society’s efforts, efforts focused on the promotion of improvements in the detection of and treatment for breast caner.