OVARIAN CANCER: Personal Stories. Living Day to Day. With Love and Faith. Pam\'s and Nina\'s stories, written by journalist Sherry Anderson, are reprinted with permission from the Southwest Orlando Bulletin. On a quiet street in Southwest Orlando live two women whose lives have followed similar paths in more ways than they ever expected. They each have two daughters, and over the years, they have had their fair share of homework, trips to malls, and carpooling to friends\' houses and after- school activities. They also have had their own work and volunteer commitments.
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The similarities in their lives are noticeable, but what most people do not realize is that these women share a bond that goes beyond any neighborhood, school group, or car pool. They know and understand what it is like to face life- threatening illnesses and meet them head- on with unwavering strength and determination. Pam\'s Story. Pam Fogle is well- known to many families in the Southwest community.
Wherever her daughters, Jennifer and Heather, went to school, Pam also was there. She served as ADDitions coordinator at Dr.
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Phillips Elementary School; president of the PTA at Bay Meadows Elementary School for the first two years the school was open; treasurer and president of the PTSA at Southwest Middle School; and vice president and president of the PTSA at Dr. Today, students still remember her as . In her honor, Bay Meadows PTA annually presents the Pam Fogle Volunteer Award to one parental volunteer and one fifth- grade student who show service to the community through volunteerism.
In the fall of 1. Pam and her family were looking forward to a relaxing trip to the Florida Keys before another busy school year got under way. Heather was 1. 3 and in the eighth grade at SWMS, and Jennifer was a 1. DPHS. Usually within 1. This time it lasted for three days, and I finally told my husband, Bill, that I needed to go to the emergency room.
The pain continued, and doctors ordered a series of X- rays and a sonogram. The tests indicated that Pam had gallstones, and the doctor wanted her to have emergency gallbladder surgery. But Pam wanted her family members to enjoy their vacation, and she wanted to consult with her own doctor in Orlando before having surgery. She was given some medication to ease her symptoms and agreed to see a surgeon the next day, just in case her symptoms worsened and emergency surgery was needed. I thought, Well, that\'s what it was. After all, I had had two pelvic exams. A normal range is 0 to 3.
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Pam was referred to Dr. Neil Finkler of the Walt Disney Memorial Cancer Center at Florida Hospital and was told that she would have to wait another week to see the doctor. My mother was very strong through all of this. Finkler, a friend gave her some valuable advice. You need to be comfortable with everything, not just the doctor.\'. Finkler was in a little office across the street from the hospital, and it was packed.
I knew I was in the right place. Finkler\'s exam detected a large mass on Pam\'s left ovary. The actors were great, but the story line wasn\'t. She would have to wait two weeks before having a complete hysterectomy and almost another week to get the pathologist\'s report, which confirmed that she had Stage III ovarian cancer.
Finkler did not feel that I needed chemotherapy right then. I remember I asked him if I was his wife, would he recommend chemotherapy at this time, and he said definitely not, because he did not like the idea of putting toxins in the body if we didn\'t have to. Finkler every month and regularly had Ca. Her count stayed around 1. By October 1. 99. Chemotherapy could no longer be avoided. In January 1. 99.
Pam began a series of six chemotherapy treatments, one every three weeks. I can\'t describe the feeling. I thought I was ready, but I wasn\'t. Heather had the hardest time with me losing my hair. She didn\'t even want to look at me at first if I didn\'t have on a wig, hat or turban. She was only 1. 4, and Mom was not supposed to get sick. There were times I wish I had stayed in bed, but I didn\'t want to disrupt their lives.?
Then I\'d kick myself, or if I was still down later, then maybe a friend would do it for me, and I would get over it. I never really dwelled on the thought that I wouldn\'t get well. I truly felt like I would. I believe that this is the only way I could have survived physically and emotionally. I think that had a lot to do with my attitude - and the fact that my family and friends always seemed to be there whenever I might be hitting a low point.
I couldn\'t have asked for them to be any stronger. A needle biopsy determined that it was the same cell as the ovarian cancer. In April 2. 00. 0, Pam began another round of six chemotherapy treatments. Her daughter, Heather, now a college student at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, came home last summer to care for her mother.
You pick yourself up and dust yourself off. Glucose is injected into the body, and if there is any cancer present, it will show up like a hot spot. Pam feels that insurance companies are hesitant to authorize its use because it is an expensive test. Its real value to her came in the form of peace of mind. She tries not to think about what might have happened if she had not had the gallbladder attack that prompted the X- rays. She always kept up with her annual visits to the gynecologist, and she never had any discriminating pain. In her early 4. 0s, she was under the typical age for the onset of ovarian cancer.
Four years ago, she also became a school employee as an office clerk at Bay Meadows. They helped look after my family with food after each treatment. The children and their parents have been so supportive. I was concerned with how the children would react to seeing me with a hat on.
They still came in and hugged me as if everything was the way it should be. I guess that old saying \'When life gives you lemons, make lemonade\' is true. Faith has been a constant with me.
I have learned a lot from this whole experience. Life is so very precious.