To My Dear, Dear Friends

Let’s sort this all out…

As many of you know, there is no cure for glioblastomas — only treatments.  Treatments designed to help the cancer victim function better and live longer.  One treatment is surgery.  I’ve had two brain surgeries, and I’ve had the services of the top brain surgeon in the world — Dr. Mark Johnson.  Treatment in July, and then another treatment in March but no cure.

Another treatment option is radiation.  I had a course of daily radiation that carried me through August and September and October of last year.  You can flip back to some of my earlier blog posts and read all about it.  It seems, looking at it now, as if I was so happy then.   Radiation is treatment.  It probably added days and weeks and months to my life.  It was a really good treatment; but, like I told you, there’s no curing the glioblastoma tumor.

There’s a third treatment, and that’s chemotherapy.  I’ve had eight rounds of chemotherapy.  Each round is different.  Each chemotherapy brings its own special hope – hope for a longer life, hope for a better life, hope for a happier life; but, of course, no hope for a cure.  And, of course, each chemotherapy brings its own cluster of nasty side effects.  I’d tell you all about the side effects, but I’m exhausted.

Don’t forget, folks, there’s a fourth treatment — the treatment of the mind.  These days even mainstream medicine recognizes the link between a healthy mind and a healthy body.  The wonderful people at the Herbert Benson Center certainly know that.  It was there that I joined with an amazing group of cancer survivors, and cancer veterans, all women (we call ourselves the ‘Benson Babes’.)  The mind, we’re taught, can be treated with meditation and prayer and positivity and hope and treatment is wonderful; but treatment isn’t cure.

Then there’s the fifth form of treatment — no treatment at all.  The last time I went to Dana Farber to meet with my health care team (What a horror show that was!  It took two ambulances, four EMT’s, a ramp and a stretcher to get me to my appointment) I told them that I’d fought the good fight and that I was ready to stop fighting.  My wonderful oncologist, Dr. Eudocia Lee, teared up when I told her.  My super-duper wonderful Nurse Practitioner, Jenn Rifenburg, told me that it was an honor to have worked with me.  How can I express to her what an honor it’s been for me to work with her?

So, friends, I am going to let the cancer run its course.  I am not afraid.  I am at peace.  I just can no longer witness the looks of anguish and suffering I see on the faces of the family I love so very much.

Over the past month I have become completely paralyzed on my left side.  I can’t walk or even move my arm.  Surgery is no longer an option.  Even with physical therapy I can never regain the control I once had.  I had an option to try even more invasive chemotherapies but I just didn’t see an upside in that.  Even if I could put up with it, I couldn’t bring myself to put Angelique and Paul through it.

Besides, there was no guarantee I would even have qualified for one of these new chemotherapies.  The trials are just so competitive!  I can just imagine them checking the Fifth Grade report cards that have been enshrined in my ‘Permanent Record’.  There’s no way I’d win any competitions there.  If only I’d studied my geography lessons!!

Don’t feel bad.  I truly am at peace.  I’m ready to go.  I feel blessed.  I feel nothing but gratitude.  I’ve had the chance to speak to the people I love and to tell them how much they’ve meant to me.  Not everyone gets that chance.

I am so grateful for everything.

My husband and daughter have been my angels.  My friends and family have been my saving grace.  My community has come through for me.  The Fire Department has responded again and again, picking me up whenever I fell.  I’m not going to fall anymore, though.  These days I can’t come close to standing up.

Don’t feel bad for me.  I’m grateful I’m not alone.  I’m surrounded by love and compassion.  Think about all the people who end their lives in isolation and loneliness.  I’m at the other end of that spectrum entirely.

I’m grateful to the other ‘Benson Babes’.  It’s been a privilege to fight cancer alongside them.  I’m grateful to my nieces and friends who are organizing a team to walk in the upcoming Brain Tumor Walk.  Keep your eye out for Pam’s “Bossy Posse”.  More to come.

I understand that God has chosen me for a specific purpose.  I am willing to serve God’s purpose.  I’ve even gotten to see the way God has been glorified through my experiences — but I’ve had experiences enough.  Now I’m praying for an end to my family’s suffering.

Maybe you’re shocked that I’ve chosen not to pursue any more treatment.  I am so sorry, but the time for fighting has passed.  Now is the time for me to learn acceptance.  I can accept the fact that my life is what it is when I think about what a wonderful life it’s been. Please be happy for me.  Be happy I’ve had such a fulfilling life.  Be happy I’ve had love, and joy, and fun … and lots and lots of crazy times.

I love you all!

I love you all!!


About pamvbradford

I am a fifty seven year old banker specializing in government banking. I have a beautiful twenty-one year old daughter and a wonderful husband. My husband and I recently downsized, and purchased a beautiful condo in Watertown MA. We love our new home. I know I am a very fortunate person. I am surrounded by supportive family members, by supportive coworkers and by the marvelous support of our faith community at Sacred Heart Parish in Lexington MA. As the Psalm says, "There is nothing that I lack." My whole life changed on July 18, 2012 when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The news came from out of the blue. My tumor was removed by the marvelous Dr. Mark Johnson and his wonderful team of surgeons at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The surgery truly was a miracle. I couldn't possibly have gotten better care. Now the 'easy' part is over. The tough part is to learn to walk with God in the midst of danger and surprise. My mood shifts from gratitude to fear and back again but I know God has a purpose for me. There's a reason I didn't die on the operating table. There's something that God wants me to do. This blog is my effort to share with others, with all of you, what it is that I am learning as I put one foot ahead of the other, live each day as it comes, and discover what it is that God has to teach me. Your prayers keep me going. Your love comforts me. Your knowledge and faith guide and teach me. God bless you all!
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13 Responses to To My Dear, Dear Friends

  1. Myles Hannan says:


    I am quite sure that if Lori could have spoken or shared how she was feeling she would have said the same feelings you were able to express. I am so glad you were able to share in the wedding of your friends with Paul and Angelique. Your faith and courage have been incredible but there comes a time when you have to say “enough is enough” to the treatment. You impacted so many people in your life and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with you for these past 4 years. You were always the one who was concerned about everyone else and then last year it was our turn to worry about you. Thank you for your friendship, your support and for making me laugh during my difficult time. I had the great pleasure to know the “lovely Pam Bradford” as you use to answer the phone at work when Paul or a friend appeared on your caller I.D. Although we have not spoken for some time you and your family are always in my prayers,

    Your friend,


  2. Mary says:

    Pam, I love you so much…you have made my life so much brighter by being in it.

  3. scaramouche says:

    It is a honour to read your blog and to have been part of your journey via this virtual porthole. I admire your bravery and how you have shared the road you have travelled with Paul and your daughter with us. Thank you so much. You are in our thoughts and in our prayers.
    Anton Böhmer

  4. Sheilah Dreyer says:

    Your courage, faith and perseverance has touched me deeply, dear Pam. I have truly been blessed by you and your family this past year. May God continue to shine His face upon you and your family and bless you abundantly.

  5. Mary Ellen says:

    Dear sweet wonderful Pam
    You have made our family so much zestier, so much more fun (who’d a thunk it?) and so much louder! 🙂
    I love you. I am the luckiest sister in law. I am so happy that you and Paul found each other.
    I can’t wait to see you again. We’ll be there soon.
    Love Love Love you
    your favorite,
    Mary Ellen

  6. Lisa Cimino says:

    Love you right back Pam! You continue to amaze me!! xoxo

  7. Love you and respect your decision! Xox

  8. Molly K. Johnson says:

    Oh Pam, my dear friend, I am not shocked. Not at all. I am so proud of you. When I read this post this morning I was speechless (which you know is EXTREMELY rare for me.) I stand in awe of your strength and grace. I thought it took so much courage for you to fight so hard through this last year-plus battle; now I am seeing what real courage is as you decide to step back and embrace a different decision. It is an honor and a privilege to walk this journey with you. You are not alone, and I am so glad you realize that. Paul and Angelique aren’t alone either. You are held up in faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.

  9. julie lancaster says:

    What a testimony. God loves you so, and is not finished with you yet. I am so happy you know that. You are so precious to me.
    With as much love as I can muster.

  10. Billy says:

    I love you Pam

  11. Mary Ann Bourque says:

    You are my hero, Pam. Your journey has been a testament of courage, faith and yes, even reality. May God continue to bless you onward. Love and blessings.

    Mary Ann Bourque

  12. Marie says:

    Pam, I love you…and you have had a wonderful life. You are my dear friend, my best friend in high school all those 40 years ago. You have touched my life, always made me laugh…I am grateful for you. Marie

  13. misha says:

    Dear Pam, Paul, and Niq,

    I’m with you all the way! lately I’ve had more experience in these areas than I deem necessary. I pray for peace, for courage, for freedom from pain, for even more comfort, for love. From here, I’m holding your hand and/or giving you a gentle hug. I truly wish it were me going home; but God has given you the Grace. I pray that I can learn to be more like you…all three of you. I love you al so dearly! Misha

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