“I am stronger than this:” Breast cancer survivor inspires others to Race for the Cure

“I am stronger than this”: Breast cancer survivor inspires others to Race for the Cure

Ocean Springs, Miss. (WLOX) - Pamela Killingsworth is the 2019 Susan G. Komen Survivor of the year. She doesn’t take that title lightly, as she knows exactly what it means to be a survivor.

In 2003, Killingsworth was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer called ductal carcinoma. In just three weeks, a pea-sized lump in one of her breasts grew to the size of an egg; that’s when doctor’s knew she needed surgery.

Pamela Killingsworth still writes about her daily symptoms to keep a journal of her health.
Pamela Killingsworth still writes about her daily symptoms to keep a journal of her health. (Source: WLOX)

As she recalls, “I went in that morning, and I said, ‘Just tell me about it when I wake up.’ So when I woke up, I had this massive bandage on the left side and he told me he had to take it, the whole thing.”

Because it was so fast growing, Pamela’s doctors urged her to consider chemotherapy after the surgery to ensure the cancer didn’t spread.

“I had a 50/50 chance, and I didn’t want to take that chance,” explained Killingsworth. “I had an eight year old. I was a single mom. So I decided if I can go through this (surgery), okay, chemo can’t be that bad. I had very little experience or been around very few people who had had cancer and chemo and radiation, so I was really dumb to that level of what was going on actually. I had no clue.”

Pamela Killingsworth and her son, Aaron, in 2003. She recalls, "He was too young to understand what was going on."
Pamela Killingsworth and her son, Aaron, in 2003. She recalls, "He was too young to understand what was going on." (Source: Pamela Killingsworth)

She quickly learned chemo would prove to be her hardest challenge. Killingsworth admits it was the scariest part of her three and half year battle.

“I couldn’t move. I felt like was I was virtually paralyzed because my body wouldn’t respond to what I wanted it to do.”

Killingsworth’s son, Aaron, was her motivation to keep going. Friends kept her spirits strong, and health professionals gave her the advice she needed to heal. One book about the healing power of foods became her Bible of sorts, to help her along her journey.

One of Killingsworth's nurses suggested this book to help her through her battle with breast cancer. The book still rests on Killingsworth's nightstand.
One of Killingsworth's nurses suggested this book to help her through her battle with breast cancer. The book still rests on Killingsworth's nightstand. (Source: WLOX)

“It’s called Foods that Harm and Foods that Heal. That book is on my nightstand in my room. I use it everyday. I took notes everyday and still do. I keep a journal of how I feel everyday.”

Sixteen years later, Killingsworth still reflects on the mantra that got her through her battle with breast cancer.

“I am stronger than this. I can beat this."

She continued: "Do I have some really mean scars? I sure do. But when I look at those scars, I remember how strong I had to be, what I had to go through, and what I endured, and what I survived.”

Pamela’s story of survival is inspiring others to keep fighting. You can help, too, by walking or running in this year’s Susan G. Komen Gulf Coast Race for the Cure. It’s Saturday, September 7th at Jones Park in Gulfport. Registration opens at 7:00 a.m. with a survivor breakfast at 7:30 a.m. The 5k run/walk begins at 8:30 a.m. Click here to register now.

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