Stories of Impact

Pam Polashenski's Story

Dr. Pam Polashenski has a rich and diverse history with Rochester Regional Health, including training as a resident as well as starting her career in Internal Medicine at Rochester General Hospital, and now serving as the Chief Medical Officer for the Eastern Region. 

Undoubtedly driven, Pam is a high achiever outside of work as well, saying she has always identified as a competitive, athletic individual, maintaining a healthy diet and vigorous exercise schedule to push her body and mind to perform.  So it came as a complete surprise when a chance ultrasound revealed breast cancer.  “I felt absolutely fine and nothing abnormal showed up on the mammogram.  Literally, I had a free moment in the day and on a whim decided to work in this imaging… thank goodness I did.”

Pam was diagnosed with stage IIIC lobular breast cancer which is an unusual variant, accounting for only 10% of all breast cancer cases.  This silent killer often does not form palpable masses, is very hard to detect and frequently results in a later stage diagnosis.  “I eat right, I work out all the time and I generally take very good care of myself.  This was a complete and total surprise,” says Pam.

She opted for a double mastectomy with Dr. Joel Yellin, a long-time colleague and mentor at Rochester General Hospital.  Dr. Mark Davenport also joined the initial surgical process, putting in tissue expanders to prepare for implants a few months later.  Pam decided to have radiation treatment with Dr. Meri Atanas at Linden Oaks, another former colleague with whom she fully trusted with her care.

Pam reflects upon her surprising emotional reaction.  “In so many areas of my life, I take charge.  That’s just who I am and how I’m wired.  But I was surprised by my reaction to this diagnosis.  I was fighting for my life and I was so scared.  I wanted to be kept informed, but I wanted – no, I needed – the best people on this case who I knew I could trust.”

Pam also made conscious decisions to have supplemental treatment in the Eastern Region, undergoing chemotherapy at Clifton Springs and regular blood draws at Newark-Wayne under the watchful eye of Dr. Bruce Yirinec.  “My surgeries at RGH were excellent – everything went as planned and my care was wonderful.  But for some of my follow up needs, I wanted to be closer to home.  The people at Clifton and Newark make me feel like family.  We are smaller and the set up simply allows for a more intimate experience not to mention it’s much more convenient coming from Palmyra. Your state of health can change in an instant.  Having access to the right care when and where you need it is priceless.”

Because Care Matters
Pam's story illustrates how quickly things can change and how comforting it is to have highly-skilled and compassionate specialists available when you need them most.  To learn more about how you can support the amazing things happening at Rochester Regional Health, please call 585.922.4800.

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