Raleigh, N.C. — When the cancer returned, Pam Kohl knew she wanted to use her diagnosis to educate others.
Now, as she returns to the office for the first time in a month, the executive director of Komen North Carolina Triangle to the Coast is putting her perspective as a two-time cancer patient to work. She now knows the physical and emotional toll the disease can take, especially when the treatment is unknown.
“When you go to see the doctor, even when you’re well-informed, you don’t know everything. I also struggle with this,” Kohl said. “You’re going to fight, and let’s be a fighter, and I’m a survivor. Nobody dies from cancer because they don’t fight hard. All of us fight hard.”
Kohl was first diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago. It was caught early and Kohl had a lumpectomy and radiation. She is one of just 5 percent of women who see her type of cancer—estrogen positive—return after that treatment.
In October, she learned her cancer had come back. Then, in December, she had a mastectomy.
“As scary and hard as this is, I know that I’m in a really good place,” Kohl said.
“I’m trying to get used to my new body,” Kohl said. “It’s hard. Getting out of the shower, you know, I loved my shower, but getting out of the shower, there’s a big mirror right there.”
Kohl is taking this very personal journey public to try to help others.
In fact, she already has.
On social media, an old friend of hers saw the first story WRAL did with her in November where Kohl talked about her second diagnosis and the importance of mammograms.
“She saw the video and she went ahead and had her mammogram,” Kohl said. “She realized she was over a month due, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer.”
Kohl has learned a lot that she now wants to share, such as how her nerves woke up two weeks after surgery and the importance of leaning on others for support.
“There were times that I needed some babysitting,” Kohl said. “For me, you know, friendship and comfort for me. Just come sit with me.”
Kohl says the past few weeks have been filled with a lot of fear and a lot of waiting. It took a month for her to get the test results that would determine her treatment moving forward.
Turns out, she will not have to undergo chemotherapy.
Right now, Kohl and the Komen staff are turning their attention to the Race for the Cure. The Triangle race is being bumped up to May 6 to take advantage of the cooler weather.
,Triangle Komen director Pam Kohl want to help others learn about cancer after her second diagnosis.,Triangle Komen director Pam Kohl want to help others learn about cancer after her second diagnosis.
A special thank you to our friends at WRAL for helping out with this post.