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Breast cancer survivor shares knowledge with others

Posted October 13, 2011

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— A breast cancer survivor from Cary has published a book to help other women navigate the often confusing and scary information about the disease.

A health and fitness professional who lived what she preached, Pam Schmid thought she could prevent things like breast cancer with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Then, in 2004, at age 46, she was diagnosed with the disease.

"That was a big wake-up call for me," Schmid said. "What I learned is you can reduce risk, but you can't prevent everything."

She had gotten regular mammograms starting at age 40. Because of dense breast tissue that can make detection more difficult, though, her cancer wasn't detected until it had grown to a stage 2 tumor.

"I had very aggressive treatment. I had (a) mastectomy, chemo, radiation and followed up with drugs," she said.

Schmid decided to write a book about her experiences, mixed with all the information she wished she had known before her diagnosis. Her book, "101 Things You Should Know About Breast Cancer," is sold at Quail Ridge Books and Music in Raleigh.

"The best thing you can do is to detect it early, so that you don't have aggressive treatment like I had," she said.

Schmid knocks down myths about what causes breast cancer, like using antiperspirant, or that small-breasted women can't get the disease.

Breast cancer survivor shares what she lost, gained Breast cancer survivor shares what she lost, gained

"The point of that is we need to arm ourselves with facts," she said.

Since experiencing a mild recurrence of breast cancer, Schmid has learned that every breast cancer survivor lives with the disease for the rest of their lives, always looking over their shoulder for it to return.

A recurrence can't be prevented, she said, but the risk can be reduced by a healthy lifestyle. She's drawn from her professional experience to eat healthy and stay as fit as possible.

Schmid said breast cancer is life changing because of what's lost.

"I was going to lose my breasts. I was going to lose my bone density and my muscle. I was going to age 10 years in one year, and that was devastating to me," she recalled.

Amid all that was lost, though, Schmid found a gift – "understanding that life is short and we're all going to die," she said.

"For survivors, it's in front of us, so we tend to live out loud. We tend not to take things for granted."


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  • wildcat Oct 20, 2011

    There are many woman and young girls that have been through the trauma of breast cancer. This lady is not the FIRST and will not be the LAST. Pray for all breast cancer victims and anyone that is in remission, or simply had cancer and dealing with it as of right now. Pray for all. Thanks.

  • karrgal77 Oct 19, 2011

    Really? Its not about being judgemental, its about stating the facts. And if YOU haven't had cancer, which I assume from your posting than maybe you should keep your opinion to yourself.

  • tnjdixie25 Oct 19, 2011

    i don't believe this book was meant to substitute any kind of medical care, it's clearly to tell her story. Why can't everyone just let her have her moment and let her be proud she has beat it. This could be her therapy to try and move on.... Let her have her moment, and stop being so judgemental of everyone. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but sometimes it's better to just keep it to your self....

  • PRGuy Oct 17, 2011

    If you watched the video, you will see that Dr. Alan Mask says the book was vetted by doctors and is medically sound. This is one book about a survivor telling her story and passing along tips. It is not a substitute for medical care.

  • wildcat Oct 14, 2011


  • wildcat Oct 14, 2011

    Do she really believe she has a story to tell when their or billions of ladies who has been through the same thing and is still struggling with their cancer? Know she is not the first and will not be the last. Just pray for all cancer victims and survivors. Pray also that there will be a cure one day. With all that money that is raised, you would think they would be closer to some kind of cure. So what is the money actually used for if not for finding a cure for breast cancer or other cancers?

  • karrgal77 Oct 14, 2011

    yes I agree that no two cases are alike and that this book could be dangerouse. The information stated that if it had been caught earlier hers would not have been treated so aggressively. Well thats not completely accurate. Mine was caught incredibly early (stage Ib), and I went thru every bit of that, except I had a lumpectomy. Had a year of chemo, 7 weeks radiation, and on drugs for 5 years. Was put into menopause at age 42.

  • jackie911 Oct 13, 2011

    I work in oncology and I find that books like these are very dangerous. No two breast cancer cases are exactly alike, just like no two pregnancies or labors are exactly alike. Chemotherapy, pre medications and the way we treat side effects are managed according to the INDIVIDUAL! It is my fear that a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient will read this book in 3 years when it number one does not even pertain to their kind of tumor and number two our treatments are improving every single day.