Pamela Moriarty: the gift of family

For Pamela Moriarty, family is everything. 

Growing up as an only child, Pamela Moriarty always knew she wanted to have a big family. With four adult children who gave her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, she thought she had everything.

But then at 85, she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer.  

After her doctor prescribed her a medication, she started researching her new diagnosis and treatment. When she found out how much it was going to cost her each month, her hope for treatment was crushed by her co-pay.

“There’s no way I can afford this,” she said.  

She called her doctor to explain that she couldn’t afford the treatment and they told her about the PAN Foundation. They also helped her apply for a grant right away.  

“I was approved almost immediately, and I thought, ‘I might have a chance of surviving this for a little while,’” she said.

Two years later, Pamela is not only surviving, but thriving. Her medication has been able to keep the multiple myeloma at bay and she is in partial remission.  

Thanks to the PAN Foundation, I am able to function. I am alive. And I am well.” 

In the two years since her diagnosis, she has focused on spending time with her family. She’s also returned to her passion for writing. Though she spent her career working as a special needs teacher to pay the bills, she spent her spare time writing and publishing various articles, poems, and short stories.

Once retired she was able to write her first book which was published on Amazon in 2016. The memoir, “What Happened to My Mother”, chronicled Pamela’s childhood growing up with her grandmother in Ireland after her father left and her mother passed away. It explores all the secrets her family kept from her when she was a child.  

Or so she thought.  

One day in 2018, Pamela’s cousin who lives in England called to ask if her father ever had any other children.  

“No, I’ve always been an only child,” she told her.  

Her cousin then sent a photo of Pamela’s father and asked her to confirm that it was him. “Yes, I have a copy of that picture… where did you get it?” 

“You’d better sit down for this,” her cousin said before going onto explain that a man had reached out to her to inquire about Pamela’s father, sharing the photo of him. Because Pamela was living in the US, the man who lived in Aberdeen had tracked down her cousin in England. He claimed that it was his father in the photo.

Fast forward through DNA tests and uncovering more family secrets, and Pamela was no longer an only child.  She had a brother.  

Finding out about him has been the biggest “bonus” of her PAN grant. And despite living in different hemispheres, Pamela and he talk every Tuesday. Through their countless conversations while reconnecting, Pamela uncovered more and more about her past – and about him. She knew right away that she wanted to write about her brother’s life.

 “I thought ‘I have to tell his story, which has so many startling parallels to my own,’” she said. “That’s what I do. It’s who I am. I’m a writer and I have to tell his story.” 

Pamela is working on telling his story in her second book, which is now with an editor. She says that staying on her treatment through financial support from the PAN Foundation has made it all possible, giving her time to get to know him and write her second book.

“Without the medication to keep my multiple myeloma in partial remission, I might never have done either,” she said.  

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