Nope, that’s not a misprint in the title. It’s what my Roper Hospital volunteer breast cancer coach, Pam Austin, said to me in one of our earliest “get to know each other” telephone conversations. We were both counting the blessings and positives that breast cancer brought into our lives, and one of my biggest blessings is the newfound friend for life I have in my coach. Oddly enough, we both married gentlemen with the last name Austin, both of us are in the golf business, both work with our husbands and now we both have shared not only breast cancer, but the same surgeon and hero, Paul Baron.
After accidentally setting the high school football field on fire with my fire batons during a half-time show in the 1970s, I thought all my big ball games in life were over … until breast cancer came calling. But in this particular game, I had Coach Pam, who along with my team of Roper physicians, nurses and technicians took me from diagnosis, through surgery, into that battlefield of chemo – one of my best friends in beating this disease – to the other side and on through radiation. And my team won. My breast cancer coach was my biggest cheerleader, sharing not only her successful journey through all the ups and downs of her own diagnosis, but also sharing a part of her life outside of cancer through which we both could bond. Along with the kind staff, my coach was an additional bright spot during my rounds of chemo at the Roper St. Francis Cancer Center, coming by to visit, leaving gifts, bringing photographs of her family and just sitting with me gabbing for hours out of a day that was already busy enough for her.
The more Pam coached me through breast cancer treatments, the more we developed a lasting friendship. To this day, we still get together, share family stories, have lunches and dinners and enjoy participating in the Roper St. Francis-sponsored SASSY Support Group functions. Sometimes I jokingly say we were sisters separated at birth but thanks to the volunteer breast coaching program at RSF, we are truly sisters in a different sense of the word. We are sisters in that special sorority: Survivors.
— Sharon Austin of Seabrook Island