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Advice from a Cancer Survivor: Trust Your Gut

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The EmPOWER Her Series with Guest Pam M.

Most of us have nonchalantly heard or used  the phrase, “trust your gut” before, but after speaking with Pam M., Guest of Mary’s Place by the Sea, for this month’s Empower Her Moment, the importance of  “trusting one’s gut” might offer greater depth and validity than we may think. 

In November of 2015, Pam happened to feel a small lump on her neck and immediately knew something was off. “Something inside my gut got very scared,” she said. “I didn’t automatically think of cancer but I felt weird. So, I went to my primary care physician and voiced my anxieties and I’m so, so grateful that I did”. 

Although Pam’s primary care physician originally did not think much of the lump, he listened to her and pushed forward with her concern. Before long, her doctor sent her to an ENT for an ultrasound; from there she did a few rounds of antibiotics as they attempted to treat what they thought to be a lymph node problem. 

After no response to the antibiotics, Pam went back to the ENT for a second time, where they performed a needle biopsy and discovered the true cause behind her anxiety. Pam did not have an infection in her lymph node, she had stage 4 metastatic melanoma. 

Listen to Your Body

Today, Pam graciously shared her story on how listening to her body may have very well saved her life and also compassionately offered advice to others, in honor of melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, on the importance of listening to and trusting one’s body. 

“I want others to know that if something feels uneasy in your gut, keep pursuing it. Don’t just take the doctor saying ‘Oh, I’m not concerned’ or ‘I’m not worried’ as a final answer. Keep following up,” she said, “I know we say it nonchalantly all the time, but really, listen to your gut. There is something real that you feel, that you know – it’s hard to explain – but it’s there, you just have to listen.” 

Luckily for Pam, she was fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing team of doctors, family, and friends from the very start of her cancer journey.

Growing with Mary’s Place by the Sea

Today, Pam looks at her experience through a lens of gratitude and moves forward into a new phase of her story, one of hope and no evidence of disease. With her, she carries a toolbox of self-love practices and self-care techniques, some of which she learned from Mary’s Place by the Sea. 

“I only signed up to stay for one night,” Pam laughed as she looked back on her first visit to Mary’s Place. “I was scared. I had never gone away by myself. I was a single mom of three boys, and I didn’t know what I was walking into or if I would even like it…But the moment I walked through the doors, I got tears in my eyes. I told the woman who answered the door that I had only scheduled to stay for one night and she said, ‘Oh I know, but we have the room ready for two nights just in case.’… and I knew right away that I was staying.” 

As our conversation came to a close, Pam spoke highly of the feeling of peace and calm that washed over her during her stay at Mary’s Place and on the connections formed through communal healing. “You just feel everything wrap around you from the moment you walk through the door – like a giant hug, and the ladies, the other guests, are just connected. Immediately you have a bond with these women. You don’t have to try to make friends, you’re already friends with these people – you just don’t know a lot about them yet.”

Interested in staying at Mary’s Place by the Sea? Please visit our Guest Information Page.