Pam Bussey

My name is Pam Bussey. I have lived in Oxford since 1981 and have been a nurse for 25 years. Between me and my wonderful husband Paul, we have 4 beautiful red headed daughters, 3 sons-in-law, and 1 granddaughter. In Jan. 2004 at the age of 46 I had a routine mammogram which showed a suspicious area. This was followed by a diagnostic mammogram, then a sonogram, all of which showed the same suspicious area. My gyn. then scheduled an appointment with a surgeon for a consult. The surgeon recommended that I have a biopsy o f the area, so a 12 needle biopsy was scheduled for the following week. A few days after that excruciating ordeal, the results were in and Paul and I were called in to discuss the results. I remember feeling like time was crawling for that week and a half. I was so impatient to get on with my life and felt like I couldn't until this was behind me. The surgeon broke the bad news-yes, I did have breast cancer. I hardly remember anything else that was said. There was such a ringing in my ears. I told Paul-you've got to get me out of here. As a nurse on the Oncology unit at RMC, I had taken care of cancer patients and I was terrified of what might be ahead for me, possibly even death. I had a friend that had breast cancer in 1991. Mary had surgery, chemo, and radiation. She was fine for 4 years, then had metastasis to her brain and bones. I sat with her near the end and gently rubbed lotion on her back-she said it helped the pain. I was glad she couldn't see my tears-I felt so helpless. Now that helpless feeling was back. I have always been a positive person, so it didn't take me long to pick myself up and decide to do whatever it would take to save my life. I had a left mastectomy at the end of January. I then had 8 chemo treatments, every third Friday. The chemo was the worst-nauseated about 95% of the time, no hair, eyebrows, or eyelashes. I was either too hot or too cold, could only manage 2-3 hours of sleep at night. The last 4 treatments were Taxotere. I was warned that it frequently causes bone pain-I have a pretty high pain tolerance-but I literally cried at times the first few days after my treatment because of the pain. I worked the entire time, so I learned to do nothing in the evenings and on the weekends except rest. I had transferred to the Wound Healing Center after my surgery. My co-workers there were great. The support I got from them allowed me to continue working even though I had to be out every third Friday and sometimes the Monday following chemo. They laughed with me when I made jokes at myself and they understood when I had meltdowns. Paul made every chemo trip to Brookwood with me. Friends offered to take me-he'd say it was fine if they wanted to go but he was going, too. My mother was wonderful. She would fix anything I thought might taste normal. She did laundry, cleaned house, bought groceries, lots of little things that can use up your energy. I had to let my family and friends take care of me at times. This battle taught me many things-I am a strong woman. I have many wonderful friends. I have a husband that truly loves me-for better or worse, in sickness and in health. I have a great family. I am truly blessed and I thank God for all the good I have in my life. I am thankful for my Steel Magnolia sisters and am proud to be a part of this organization.