Both Survivors, Both Warriors
TBBCF names 2023 honorary walk co-chairs
By Ellyn Santiago
They were both diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. The journeys of survivors Pamela Morris Watt and Shelley Gregory are at once different and yet so very much the same.
Now, the two devoted Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation walkers and volunteers have been named the honorary co-chairs of the 2023 TBBCF Walk for a Cure.
About Pamela Morris Watt
In 2008, when Watt was diagnosed with two types of breast cancer, family and friends created a team and walked in support of her fight as she was undergoing chemotherapy. She waited for Pam’s Pink Posse at the finish line, a “very emotional day for me.” After that, nothing could stop her from giving of herself and her time to help others. In 2009, a year after several surgeries and procedures and several months of chemo, she walked the marathon and raised $5,000, and has since been one of TBBCF’s top fundraisers.
Watt walks in solidarity and support of those battling breast cancer. She walks to celebrate those who have beat the disease. And she says, she walks to “reflect on those who we have lost with the common goal of raising funds for research to find a cure.”
A 15-year breast cancer survivor, Watt, has been a year-round volunteer since 2010, is TBBCF’s Matching Gift Administrator and last year was elected Vice President of TBBCF’s Board of Directors.
This year, she’s an honorary walk co-chair.
“I am honored to be nominated as an Honorary Walk Chair. As much as the walk is the signature fundraiser for TBBCF, it is more than that to me,” she said. “It is a day of comradery and reflection on my survivorship and how far we have advanced in treatment.”
Watt added that it’s also a day of reflection.
“With that said, it is also a day that I reflect on those who have not been as lucky as I and have lost their battle,” she said. “I feel blessed to be part of such an amazing group that hopefully will fund the research that finds the cure and shuts down our walk.”
About Shelley Gregory
Eight months after her first walk in 2007 to help raise money for breast cancer research, Gregory herself was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was in training for the 2008 Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation 26.2-mile walk when she underwent a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. She was supposed to begin chemotherapy immediately afterward. But, in marathon walk training, she asked her oncologist if she could delay treatment for several weeks. He gave her his reluctant but supportive blessing.
“On the day of the Walk, 12 of my best friends took turns walking with me so that I would never be alone. We were among the last walkers to cross the finish line…crying, cheering, and holding on to one another! Five days later, I began six months of chemotherapy followed by six weeks of radiation.”
A top TBBCF fundraiser who’s walked 16 marathons, Gregory is the definition of a warrior, a 15-year breast cancer survivor and now, one of the two honorary Walk chairs of the 2023 TBBCF Walk for a Cure.
“I am incredibly honored to have been chosen as co-chair, and I am very happy to have Pam by my side,” Gregory said. “I don’t know her well, but I know a little of her story and have always admired and respected her.”
Gregory said that while she’s a “relatively new” TBBCF volunteer, she added that it’s “something I have wanted to do for years.”
“I just hope that my involvement truly helps raise awareness and the importance of increasing walker participation so that we can increase funding grants that could potentially eradicate breast cancer,” she said. “What I may lack in chairing experience, I will definitely make up for with my enthusiasm, spirit and commitment.”