6 minute read

Cancer Warrior

Cancer Warrior

by, Kari Kingsley, MSN, CRNP

Not all of us will be presented with the opportunity to look death in the face and rise up to fight.

Life always gives you a choice. Lay down and die or stand up and fight. Fighting is not a given. It’s a choice. A choice to become a warrior. But we are not born warriors. Life presents challenges and obstacles, and we make the choice to go to war. Webster’s Dictonary defines a warrior as a person engaged in struggle or conflict. But it is how that person enters into battle that makes them a true warrior. Rather than fighting out of obedience or allegiance, a true warrior engages in battle out of personal choice.

On February 21, 2019, Pammie Eagle Jimmar was faced with the battle of her life. On that day, she heard the one word that would change her life forever. Cancer. Through all the amazing advancements in medical science, this one word can shake a person to their core. Pammie was diagnosed with Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. A million thoughts went through her mind as her doctor laid out the unnerving news. “I am human. All kinds of things were going through my mind. I cried and cried and I cried!” Pammie’s thoughts immediately jumped to those she loved. “How would I tell my family and friends? Should I just keep silent?” After crying for what seemed like an eternity, Pammie drove home and told her Mom. Together they decided that this was just a bump in the road and that she, with the help of her family, would get through this. “I remember saying God’s got my back and I’ve got so much FAITH, so let’s get this battle started!” Rather than taking her new diagnosis lying down, Pammie took on this fight with grace, passion, intensity, and intelligence. She had unwavering faith that God’s grace and mercy would see her through. Pammie chose to become a warrior. The next few days were a blur. MRIs, CTs, Bone Density Scans, lab work and doctor appointments flooded Pammie’s schedule. She remembers the fear that came with each test. “It was scary because the machines were so huge, sterile and cold.” Pammie recalls crying at every doctor’s visit in the beginning because of fear of the unknown. This was a new diagnosis. New terminology. She had no idea what to expect. Luckily, she was placed in the care of a compassionate oncologist at Clearview Cancer Institute. The physician immediately told Pammie that together they would win this fight. His main goal was to keep her alive. This was music to her anxious ears. Soon after, Pammie underwent placement for a port-a-cath and began chemotherapy. She underwent a total of 4 treatments of Adriamycin to target the tumor. Better known as the Red Devil, she renamed it the Red Angel. “This treatment drained all of the energy from me, took my appetite away, and made me sick, however I knew it was working in my favor. Next, Pammie endured an additional 16 rounds of chemotherapy and a lumpectomy, followed by 16 more rounds of treatment in combination with radiation. A series of tests were arranged to determine the amount of tumor regression. Pammie and physician were faced with difficult news. The cancer began to grow in a contained area of the breast. “He went over several options, and I decided to go with a unilateral mastectomy; coupled with 16 rounds of chemotherapy.” After the 11th round of chemo she began to develop neuropathy in her fingers and toes. Her physician again reviewed her options and together they made the decision to stop the chemo treatments. The decision paid off. On September 13,2019. Pammie was considered cancer free. Pammie says she has always had faith. “Faith is believing. I won this battle because of my faith in knowing that I would be cured of cancer coupled with lots and lots of prayer.” A dear friend and cancer survivor gave Pammie a book by Christine Caine called “Unshakable”. She read the little book during her meditation hour daily. She recalls what she calls a “golden nugget” from the book –“Unshakable faith is impossible to change, shake, or beat down. The kind of faith that is confident in knowing Jesus, our Rock and Mighty Fortress. The One who promised to never leave us nor forsake us. The One who causes us to triumph over any hurdle or situation trying to destabilize us or stop us from fulfilling our God-given purpose.” She triumphantly says “I Thank God for saving me. Because of him I am cancer free!”

Pammie has been overwhelmed by the support she has received from family and friends. “They have been amazing. My mom is my HERO! She has been with me throughout this entire journey. She has never once left my side.” Pammie moved to the Huntsville area 7 years ago knowing only family members and her boss. “I’d have to say this is the best community I’ve ever lived in. Everyone rallied for me and just stepped in and helped me and my family in more ways that you could ever imagine. My heart is full just thinking about it. I never knew how much people loved and cared about me and my family. I am so blessed to have witnessed the love and support this community has given me.” Pammie says she has surrounded herself with the most positive people. “They radiate positive vibes,” Pammie feels God knew this is exactly what she needed in her life to complete this journey. Pammie is grateful to her coworkers at Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce for their tremendous moral support. When asked who the most inspirational person in her life is, she answers with grace and pride. “My beautiful mom inspires me every day of my life. “She has been my rock throughout this entire journey and my loudest cheerleader.” She never missed an appointment, scan, test, or chemo treatment. Pammie also says that all survivors of cancer inspire her daily. “They are mighty, fierce warriors.” Cancer warriors. It is possible to fight more than one battle at a time. “I haven’t shared this with many people but not only was I about to put on all of my armor and fight the battle of my life, I was also going through a divorce. I know this sounds crazy, but I never really got the opportunity to process the divorce because so much was going on in my life. The divorce, the cancer diagnosis, preparing a house to be sold, preparing my baby boy to head off to college 1,300 miles from home, and trying to wrap my head around the changes in my life was a huge pill to swallow.” Pammie’s faith never wavered. “I just knew God would take care of me through all of this.” Pammie knew that He had a plan and purpose for all of this and if she would just have faith and know that He would not put more on her than she could bear she would be protected on this journey. Pammie has helped others by sharing her courageous battle with cancer publicly. She radiates grace and keeps faith that God is always working in her favor. “Cancer is an awful disease and I feel once people know you have it, they begin to feel sad and sorry for you. I never wanted people to feel this way about me. I wanted them to feel hopeful that I would beat this disease. Hands down, I wanted them to know that I had faith and that this too would pass. God was helping me along with their prayers to win this battle. I love this community and after a while, everyone began to see that I was strong and mighty and had faith to get through this journey.” When asked what she would tell someone with a new diagnosis of breast cancer, she replies, “I would first tell them that I am on the battlefield with them, battling this disease with them and that they don’t have to go through this alone. Let your family and friends help you on this journey. Stay positive and surround yourself with positive people, and don’t forget to sprinkle all of the above with a lot of faith.”

Pammie has been chosen as the honorary guest speaker at the 2019 Tie the Ribbons Luncheon supporting Hudson Alpha’s breast and ovarian cancer research. She says she is also honored to be recognized as a Breast Cancer Survivor and to be able to share her story with others in hopes of inspiring someone who may be going through the same journey. When she meets those she has encouraged, she calls it receiving Golden Nuggets. “Going through this journey, these were very powerful for me to receive – little blessings from God.”

Pammie is the most courageous of warriors. Not only has she taken onthe battle to save her own life and beat breast cancer, she has also taken on the battle of bringing awareness to her journey in the hopes of supporting and helping others.

Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle – Psalm 144:1.

Pammie is a true cancer warrior.

Kari Kingsley, MSN, CRNP is an otolaryngology nurse practitioner with over 8 years of ENT experience who currently works at Huntsville ENT (256-882-0165). She is a medical writing consultant for Inside Medicine and enjoys writing articles on pertinent material to keep the residents of North Alabama up to date on the forefront of medicine.