In 2016, at 63 years old, Pam Farrell was diagnosed with breast cancer during a routine mammogram. Now in remission, Pam sat down with WYAO Hawaii to talk story about her diagnosis, treatment and her words of wisdom to those recently diagnosed.
WH: When first diagnosed, what were your first thoughts and feelings?
PF: I learned that my biopsy came back positive for breast cancer during a phone call while I was at work. It was very disturbing and I was devastated.
WH: Speaking of work, what do you do for work?
PF: I am retired now at the age of 66; but back then, I worked for the State of Hawaii in the Department of Education.
WH: Did you reveal your diagnosis to your work team and how did they react?
PF: My boss was very supportive which made all the difference in my treatment and recovery. I was afforded flexible time and my office team was very accommodating. I had accrued a lot of sick leave which definitely came in handy during this time.
WH: What is the status of your health now?
PF: I underwent a lumpectomy and radiation which was about a 3-4 month journey. During that time, I suffered with ultimate fatigue. I was unable to do anything but rest which was somewhat frustrating since I am highly active. Those radiation side effects and the fatigue lasted for one year after I finished that treatment. Now, I am required to take a medication for a minimum of 5 years to cure this cancer. Unfortunately, this medication has nasty side effects, which I am currently experiencing – severe muscle pain and joint pain.
WH: How would you rate your medical team throughout this diagnosis?
PF: I want to give kudos to all of the staff at the Kapiolani Women’s Health Center. The wonderful team there made my diagnosis and the process of treatment a quick and speedy one. There was no real waiting game in terms of my results. I never was left to sit on worry of what was going to happen next.
WH: What are a few things would you say to someone recently diagnosed with cancer?
PF: To keep positive and find all the good happening around you. Always remember that this is a tentative phase of your entire life and that this too shall pass.
WH: What was the main thing that helped you through your diagnosis and treatment?
PF: The support of my work team, my family and my friends.
WH: Now that you are retired, what do you do for enjoyment?
PF: I love to workout at The Honolulu Club taking their classes. I am trying a few new classes like Yoga and have been doing Zumba water aerobics. I also enjoy golfing (my lowest handicap was 22).
WH: Any words of wisdom for others?
PF: Yes, definitely do your breast self exams and do you annual mammograms; early detection is key to remission!
WH: Final thoughts?
PF: I have a team participating in The 2019 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Hawaii Walk as we fundraise for breast cancer research. We are able to take donations until December 31, 2019! Please look for our team – Pink Pam-Ther and other Pink Partners to donate today!