I survived breast cancer 5 years ago after receiving a double mastectomy. Five years to the very week, it returned. PSA Inflight managers really stepped up with support like none other before. The AFA union reps rendered equal care and concern. However, I have learned all over again that my happiness comes from what image I give others of myself. If I show defeat or depression, I will receive pity, but if I show just a little bit of strength, that’s exactly what I’ll receive back from my supporters. Regardless of my daily fight right now, I have to have hope in myself in order for others to not only have hope for me, but for them to know that they too can make it through whatever seems to be a rough patch for themselves at any time. We are responsible for our own happiness in life. Each day I live, I can fight this. Each day I fight, it allows me Life! I had my surgery last week and will soon have chemo followed up with radiation. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to wear my pink scarf to work as I am home recovering from the surgery. But seeing pictures of my fellow flight attendants makes me so happy beyond imaginable. You see, some of them may wear it just for a change in the uniform, but 1 in 10 people will know or come in contact with someone In the Fight, a Survivor of the Fight or know someone who lost the Fight to Cancer. So whether they know it or not, seeing that Pink Scarf or Pink Tie around their neck is such a heartfelt, tearful moment for someone like me. And I thank everyone who wears pink because You help me grow strong!
Jean Holloway’s life changed forever when she was diagnosed with Stage IV (Metastatic) breast cancer. As part of a small statistic of the overall number of breast cancer fighters, she has learned that this group is relatively ignored in the big picture of cancer research funding efforts. She is determined to change that.
Cancer does not discriminate.
I was 37 years old and in the prime of my life when I was diagnosed in December 2016 with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer. Since then, I have survived four months of chemotherapy and I am currently on hormone suppressants and taking a daily chemotherapy pill to target the tumors that have spread to my liver. I share this because this disease has been portrayed as something you fight and beat and then you are a part of this fun community of women that wear pink. That is simply not the case.
Each year, 200,000 Americans are diagnosed with breast cancer. 6-10% percent of these diagnoses are metastatic, or Stage IV, and approximately another 30% of breast cancer patients will develop metastatic breast cancer. 100% of those diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer will die from it. However, only 2% of breast cancer donations go to Metastatic research. Most money raised goes toward early detection and awareness. Although those two things are important, they do not save lives. The only way to survive is to raise money for research that will discover a cure for Stage IV. 113 women and men die from Metastatic Breast Cancer daily. I do not want to be a part of that statistic.
I wear a pink and purple ribbon to represent living #beyondpink and in honor of those we are losing daily to this terrible disease. My hope in wearing this ribbon is that it will spark the conversation and educate others on the importance of Metastatic Breast Cancer research.
Thank you to my PSA family and team for the hope you have given me to continue my #nonstopfight.
Throughout the month of October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are providing Stories of Hope from our team members and their families who are engaged in a #nonstopfight with the disease. This week’s Story of Hope is from Crew Scheduling Coordinator Trisha Wilmoth. Read how her grandmother’s fight has changed her life and who has been the most inspiring of all on her support team:
Five PSA team members recently partnered with volunteers from American Airlines to provide a life-changing experience for a group of special needs children.
Through Wings for Autism and It’s Cool to Fly AA program held at Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTI), dozens of families with special needs children were introduced to the steps involved in the day-of-departure travel experience. They went through security procedures, how to board an aircraft, how to find their seat and experience taxiing on the runway.
Many families hesitate to travel by air because of a child’s special needs and how others may perceive the child’s behavior, said Sumanth Reddimalla, Assistant Director of Corporate Security and Emergency Response for PSA, who has been part of four Wings for Autism events.
The experience opens doors many families perceived as closed. “Allowing these individuals to practice opens up an entire world to them. Travel now becomes an opportunity and option. Often the struggle for these individuals is the unknown and with a program like this, that factor is removed and their anxiety levels are greatly reduced and manageable,” said Melanie Lopez, Flight Attendant for PSA.
The event provides crew members and the station employees tools they can apply on future flights to better assist customers with special needs.
Lopez, who has a background in special education, was participating in her fourth event, “Often, passengers with autism are non-verbal because they can’t handle the noise around them and wear sound blockers and I’m able to communicate with sign language. If our crew members take a few minutes to learn a few signs to communicate such as, “Hi, how are you?” and “What is your name?” we are able to make an entire community more comfortable onboard and show we care.”
Flight Attendant Britt Roach said, “This gives parents and children a chance they may never get in real life and that’s a practice run at traveling with a child with special needs.”
Roach said this event is special to him because it brought back memories of working with autistic and special needs children and adults at a healthcare facility. He said it is an honor to be able to participate and looks forward to future events. “A special ‘Thank You’ to PSA and American Airlines for the opportunity to let me help make someone else’s life a little bit easier.”
There is a rewarding feeling from participating, the volunteers said. “The overall experience for the crew was one of excitement to be helping individuals with autism experience this life-changing event. We all feel really honored and privileged to have participated and be a part of their journey. This event is one I hold near and dear to my heart.” Lopez said.
The event was successful through the collaboration between the ARC, PSA’s Dispatch Department, Security and crew volunteers, along with the PTI (Piedmont Triad International Airport in North Carolina) and American Airlines’ volunteer program.
Title: Currently, a line captain and part-time ground school instructor.
How long have you worked for PSA? I’ve been with PSA about three years.
How long have you been in the airline industry? I started in the airline industry in 1979 as a flight attendant with AA. I flew at Comair for 15 years and was a captain for 11 years. Following Delta’s shutdown of Comair, I went to TransStates Airlines (where Keith Stamper was at the time.) for almost two years.
How did you transition from being a flight attendant? How long were you a flight attendant? I enlisted in the National Guard so I could go through pilot training. That didn’t work the way I wanted it to, but, I was able to use the additional income from the National Guard and GI Bill benefits to pay for civilian flight training. I was a flight attendant for 17 years. That schedule enabled me to pursue flying and have a reserve military career.
What brought you to PSA? PSA started growing and through a former Comair pilot, I was hired here. I turned down a Captain upgrade at TransStates to start at PSA and not commute for the remainder of my career.
Give us a brief overview of what you do: I fly a normal schedule like most other pilots, but am periodically pulled off trips to teach captain upgrade classes or do end-of-course evaluations for new-hire pilots. I was in the training department as a ground instructor due to being diagnosed with a heart condition I don’t have. It took about 18 months to return to flying after convincing the FAA I was healthy.
Where’s your favorite place you have traveled? The Panama Canal. The history behind the canal and the changes recently completed to allow more shipping through the canal. In 2011, did you know only 30-35% of commercial freighters could sail through the Panama Canal? Did you know the United States was not the first country to attempt building the Panama Canal?
What are some of your hobbies? Reading, grilling, physical fitness
What do you love about working for PSA? It’s close to home, so I don’t have to commute. I live in Monroe, which is halfway between DAY and CVG. I’m originally from Williamsburg, VA.
Would you recommend PSA and why? It’s a growing airline with a young fleet of very good airplanes.
You mentioned the fleet of good airplanes. What do you like about flying the CRJ 200, 700 and 900s? All the CRJs are pretty sturdy. I like the systems design and the improvements made in the 700 and 900s. I’ve flown the EMB-120 turboprop and the EMB-145. The CRJ electrical system, in particular, is more reliable.
What piece of advice do you pass along to younger pilots the most? Enjoy the flying while you can. It doesn’t matter which airline you’re at, your time may end sooner than you think. Because of the medical situation with the FAA and the misdiagnosis, my time as a pilot almost ended prematurely.
What changes have you seen in the airline industry that have surprised you the most in your career? The amount of consolidation and the names of the carriers which no longer operate…Eastern, Western, Pan Am, TWA, Continental, People Express, Comair, Braniff, Command, Air Virginia and more. Some were upstarts which tried to take on the majors and failed. Some were forced out of business and others were consolidated into the surviving airlines today. The air traffic controllers strike in the early 1980s was ill-advised and had a disastrous effect on the airline industry. Because of that incident, I’m not thrilled with current efforts to privatize ATC services.
Tell us something about your role that most people don’t know: I like having a positive influence on younger crew members.
What has been the most rewarding part of your job? The travel and the people I formed close friendships with over the years.
Tell us something no one knows about you: Many don’t realize I started my airline career with American Airlines as a flight attendant.