Pam McKelvy shares life's biggest obstacles - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Pam McKelvy shares life's biggest obstacles

(WMC-TV) - You have probably heard by now that Action News 5 at 4 p.m. welcomed a new addition to the anchor family.  But what you may not know is that Pam McKelvy has quite the story.  And it is one she has not shared -- until now.

A lot has happened in Pam's life since she left local TV seven years ago.  For the first time she is sharing her very personal story in hopes that it will help others.

Pam will be the first to tell you she's been beating the odds her whole life.

"It is a gift," she said.  It is a gift and a blessing that I am sitting here."  

Humble words from a woman who was once a finalist for the Miss America crown.

Not only is Pam a talented singer and former beauty queen, but she is also an accomplished TV news anchor.

It is a career she walked away from seven years ago, shortly after the birth of her first child.

"My son has been my first priority, and I'm glad I did. I would give it up all over again to be able to have that time with him," she explained.

Her son, Ian, who is now 7 years old, has autism. 

"I tell people about it, I'm not afraid to say he has autism. I don't look at it as a label," said Pam.  "Yeah he is different, but he is no less than anybody.  Different but no less."

Pam says getting Ian the help he needed was a process of trial and error.

"From the time that he was 18 months to about 5 years old, when I was really in the trenches with him going to the different therapists learning all these different procedures and how to help him, that made a difference," she said.

Now that Ian is in school, Pam decided it was a good time to go back to work.  But little did she know, life had other plans.

A routine doctor's visit and annual mammogram revealed that Pam had breast cancer.

"They did a biopsy, that's like a little mini surgery, they stick needles, and they took 15 shots, because it was a mass that was significant," she explained.  "I sat down on the edge of my bed and I said, 'Lord, I'm surrendering this to you.'  It was when I said that, I felt a peace, and I'm not kidding, everything started coming together."

Pam had the mass removed.  She has undergone a double mastectomy and is in the process of reconstructive surgery.

She says she does not have any family history of breast cancer, but she would self-test on a regular basis and get screened.  That is how she was able to detect the problem so early. 

"And what surprised me too, is that a lot of women still don't have mammograms.  That trips me out," she said.

Her doctors said the cancer did not spread to her lymph nodes.  That is good news that has given Pam renewed drive.

"So what I have to face now, I feel like a second spirit to run that race," Pam said.

It is a race that is far from over.

Pam faces preventative treatment chemotherapy or several weeks of radiation.

"I'm not really scared of the chemo, I am scared of losing my hair, I'm not going to lie, and particularly lately I've been growing my hair out," she said.

Hair cares aside, once her treatment is complete, there is an additional five years of check-ups and screenings before she is declared cancer free.

"People look from the outside and they think I've got this great fabulous life.  And I have, but it's been challenging.  I've had to fight to have this life," she said.  "It didn't just, ooo, wow, fall into place like that.  Anything you want you've got to work for it."

Pam worked hard because life was hard.

She was born in Detroit.  Pam and her siblings were raised by a single mother who struggled to make ends meet.

"It's hard to break a cycle when all you see and all you know is failure because you begin to believe the failure when it happens over and over again.  You stop hoping," she explained.

Pam said she dug deep to rise above her circumstances.

It is her life experience that allows her to identify with people struggling in the Mid-South.

"There are a lot of people in North Memphis who don't have any control over their life, not their economic situation, not their educational situation and they're in an environment where the non-acceptance of changing it is accepted," she said.

That acceptance of failure is something Pam works tirelessly to change through volunteer work with organizations like Girls Inc. and through sharing her story with Action News 5.

Now, nearly eight weeks past surgery to remove a cancerous mass, she is returning to TV news with a new family and a new commitment to the community she serves.

"If you would have told me seven weeks ago that I'd be getting back to something I want to do, I'd be feeling good again, you know, I was optimistic, but being that and living that is a totally different thing."

Pam is as real as it gets and we here at Action News 5 are thrilled to have her join our family.  

You can send Pam your well-wishes and welcome her to the family by commenting on our Facebook page or by emailing her directly at

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