Attitude, gratitude guided Pam Williams through cancer treatment
STAGECOACH — Throughout her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer, Pam Williams kept gratitude at the forefront.
First, she is grateful to Dr. Terese Kaske at the UCHealth Gloria Gossard Breast Care Center for finding the cancer, calling the discovery “remarkable.”
It wasn’t obvious, but Kaske kept looking and looking on a hunch something was there, Williams explained.
“She was quite the detective in figuring it out,” Williams said.
The first signs were identified during a routine mammogram in June 2017, when Williams was 67.
The other doctors she saw for the subsequent lumpectomy and radiation were highly impressed it had been found so early, Williams said.
And for that, she is eternally grateful.
While Williams received radiation, she felt immense gratitude because she saw others who had it much worse — especially those who were young and those with very aggressive cancers.
She was grateful she did not need chemotherapy. Tests did not show any signs the cancer had spread.
Williams cannot say enough good things about the people and the care she received in Steamboat Springs as well as at Shaw Cancer Center in Edwards. And deeply grateful to her family and friends.
Nearby to Shaw, Williams spent her time in between radiation sessions hiking.
“That was my sanity,” Williams said.
Williams and her husband, Steve, are spending their “retirement” running a ranch near Stagecoach where they raise Highland cows.
They raise them both for breeding and meat, and the meat is more like wild game, Williams said — very lean. They have one client with a chronically ill daughter whom doctors said the Williams’ meat was the only kind she should eat.
And that sums up what Williams cares about: “improving the land and making good food for good people.”
A high school biology teacher in her previous career, Williams loves the land and all who inhabit it. She and her husband recently purchased a small section of eroding Yampa River and are working to restore it.
She also invites neighborhood kids for annual holiday gatherings.
“Once you’re a teacher, you can’t help yourself,” Williams said.
The radiation did take a toll, and Williams took needed advice from a friend who told her, “You need to understand you must heal, and to heal takes time, and you need to be patient.”
Williams also learned she was her own best advocate — a lesson reinforced after a close call earlier in her life with a misdiagnosed heart condition.
“It’s important to put your faith in the medical field but also to do your own homework so you understand what is going on,” Williams advised. “And don’t be afraid to ask questions. You know your body better than anyone else.”
And going together with gratitude, Williams emphasized, is attitude.
“The most important thing is to stay positive,” she said. “I look at this is a chapter in my life, and I just keep moving on — and know there’s more good stuff around the corner.”
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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Editor’s Note: This is part 1 of a 2-part series. Part 2 outlines non-surgical and surgical treatment options for hip injuries.