April 11, 2014
Lung cancer survivor: 'Everything changes after cancer'
BY Kellie Bramlet
The scan that showed Pamela Bowman's broken pelvis -- the painful result of an afternoon of ice skating with her grandchildren -- also revealed the tumor inside her lung.
Years earlier, Pamela had undergone adrenal surgery at MD Anderson. So when she received her lung cancer diagnosis, there was no doubt in her mind where she would go for lung cancer treatment.
"There's no place like MD Anderson," she says. "When you've got cancer, you need to go to the best."
Pamela's lung cancer treatment: Finding a home away from home
Pamela's local doctors in Jackson, Miss., had warned her that her surgery would be difficult and that her lung cancer prognosis wasn't good. At MD Anderson, though, she got a different message.
"This is something that you'll carry to your grave, but it's not going to put you in your grave," said her doctor, Wayne Hofsetter, M.D., professor of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery.
Pamela had surgery at MD Anderson before returning home to Mississippi for chemotherapy. Once her chemo treatments were complete, she traveled back to Texas for twenty-seven proton therapy treatments.
"I actually looked forward to going to my treatments each night," she says. "The staff and other patients all became like a big family to me."
She grew especially close to one of the radiation therapists, Stephanie Bazille. Stephanie was one of the first people Pamela met after starting her treatment.
"I trusted her," Pamela says. "She explained the procedures to me and my family. She made me feel like we had almost come home."
Stephanie even came back hours after her shift had ended to watched Pamela ring the gong at the graduation ceremony, signifying the end of her treatment in August 2013.
Life after lung cancer treatment
Pamela's family was also there to support her throughout her treatment. Her husband traveled to Houston with her, and their children and grandchildren visited a few times as well. One of her grandsons, Key, sent her a text message each day during her lung cancer treatment.
With her treatment complete and her scans clear of signs of cancer, Pamela went back to Mississippi. Pamela's life was like it had been before cancer, but somehow everything was different now.
"Everything changes after cancer," she says. "I just live in the moment. I just live for the special times."
Lung cancer is one of the cancers MD Anderson is focusing on as part of our Moon Shots Program to dramatically reduce cancer deaths. Learn more about our Lung Cancer Moon Shot.
The staff and other patients all became like a big family to me.