Participant Spotlight: Pamela Wilson

Cancer—the word itself evokes a sense of fear and uncertainty. The journey of diagnosis, treatment, and recovery can be long and arduous, filled with physical and emotional challenges. But amidst the hardship, stories of resilience emerge—stories like Pamela Wilson’s. 

Diagnosed with various forms of cancer over a 12-year period, Pamela battled through countless treatments, surgeries, and emotional hurdles. However, her journey is also one of hope and the transformative power of supportive communities.

A Decade of Facing Cancer Head-On

Pamela’s journey began in 2011 when she received a blood cancer diagnosis. While managing her condition with medication and regular monitoring, she continued working as a teacher and leading a relatively normal life. However, a series of unexpected events established a recurring theme over the next few years. 

First, in 2016, a seizure led to the discovery of a benign tumor, requiring surgery but thankfully not impacting her long-term health. In 2022, a routine blood test revealed elevated white blood cell levels. Pamela was referred to Sarah Cannon Center for Blood Cancers in Nashville and was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Pamela was considered at high risk for relapse because her blast cell count percentage was so high, so she moved to Nashville to receive daily injections and monitoring for several months. After more than three months of chemotherapy treatment, Pamela’s blast cell count was finally low enough to perform a bone marrow transplant. After her transplant, Pamela was required to stay in Nashville for an additional 100 days. 

“Needless to say, all the chemicals over a 16-month period were really hard on the body,” Pamela said. “When we returned home, my fatigue and exhaustion were beginning to improve, but my entire body ached, and my muscles were greatly atrophied.”

About a month later, Pamela noticed a lump in her right abdomen, which was diagnosed as a strangulated hernia. Of course, this could have been another bump on the road, but it became a life-changing experience for Pamela when her case was assigned to Dr. Aaron Margulies.

At her final post-op appointment with Dr. Margulies, Pamela mentioned that she wanted to start exercising again and hoped to improve her overall well-being. He graciously handed her a Survivor Fitness brochure. 

“Dr. Margulies is one of the kindest doctors I’ve ever met and sensitive to the emotional and physical needs of his patients,” Pamela shared. “Without his fortuitous recommendation, I would never have known about Survivor Fitness.”

Finding Support and Sisterhood at Survivor Fitness

Connecting with Survivor Fitness marked a turning point for Pamela. Paired with trainer Kathleen Bullock, Pamela embarked on a personalized fitness journey. Kathleen was able to ascertain Pamela’s base fitness level and help train her through exercises that Pamela could also practice at home in between sessions. 

“Kathleen was very helpful in understanding my needs, and guiding my efforts,” Pamela said. “She was very understanding of my limitations, yet had the ability to provide motivation and challenges to promote continuous improvement. The friendship and sister in Christ that I found with her was a bonus!”

A Life Renewed: Strength, Gratitude, and Hope

After completing the Survivor Fitness program, Pamela felt confident enough to continue her workouts independently at home. Today, she enjoys brisk walks of over two miles several times each week and incorporates resistance exercises into her routine. Most importantly, she feels like herself again. “It’s been two years since my recovery journey began, and I feel normal again,” Pamela beams.

Pamela’s story is a powerful reminder that even amidst seemingly insurmountable challenges, the human spirit can persevere. Her unwavering faith, the support of her medical team, and the guidance of Survivor Fitness all played crucial roles in her journey to regaining strength and well-being.

“At my recent yearly wellness exam with my PCP, I mentioned to her that I felt very blessed, that I am a walking miracle, saved by miraculous modern medicine, medical experts, and above all else, God’s grace,” Pamela reflects. “I am at a loss for words sometimes, at how much OTHERS are willing to do and have done to help me through this journey.”

Get Connected to the Survivor Fitness Community

Pamela’s story serves as a beacon of hope for other cancer survivors. It’s a testament to the human spirit’s ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. We are incredibly grateful to Pamela for sharing her inspiring story and being part of our community. 

If you are a cancer survivor seeking hope and support after treatment or know someone who is, we invite you to learn more about our programs and how we can help you reclaim your strength. Reach out with questions or apply today to take the first step towards a healthier and happier future.