Writer, Web producer, volunteer, support group founder, and survivor: PJ Hamel brings her stories, wisdom, and optimism to the breast cancer community.
Hi, I’m PJ Hamel. I joined HealthCentral in 2006, where I write about breast cancer and how it intersects with a woman’s life, turning it upside down and inside out before retreating into a dark dead-end of some obscure capillary trail, never to return… fingers crossed.
A 14-year breast cancer survivor, I’ve earned my cred through hard experience: I went through a biopsy, followed by a lumpectomy, mastectomy, a TRAM flap reconstruction, and additional corrective surgery. I had chemotherapy, then radiation. I experienced lymphedema, and was on hormone treatment to prevent recurrence (tamoxifen and Arimidex) for nine years following active treatment. As a result of the cancer drugs, I developed bone loss, took Actonel, and continue to work on bone strength through diet and exercise.
As an award-winning author in varied fields, I transitioned easily to health writing. Since so much of breast cancer communication is based on science and research, I applied for and earned a spot in the National Institutes of Health’s prestigious annual course, Medicine and the Media: the Challenge of Reporting on Medical Research. I’ve been actively counseling breast cancer patients and survivors for 12 years, and founded and continue to manage a robust online survivor support group.
Cancer has shown me just how suddenly life can change. It's taken me in directions I’d never envisioned – which is a good thing. Cancer has brought me to a place that’s way different (and much better) than anything I’d ever planned. It's opened my timid heart. And shown me my passion: reaching out to all of you as you face your own change in direction, your own changed plans… your own journey through cancer. Let’s go together, shall we?