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A Word on Our History from the Founder

“You have cancer” is a sentence no one wants to hear.  But statistics show that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 men will hear those three words in their lifetime.  In June of 2000, I became a statistic.  I was two weeks shy of my 36th birthday and had just been diagnosed with uterine cancer.  And so my journey as a cancer survivor began.  And my world changed forever.

I now stand beside 5 other members of my own family – all cancer survivors, all diagnosed within a 5 year span.  Witnessing the effects of the various cancer treatments my family experienced opened my eyes to the special challenges we as survivors face “post-cancer”.  Cancer treatment, whether it be radiation, chemotherapy, or serious surgery has a tremendous impact on a person’s physical well-being.  Regaining strength and stamina lost during treatment not only decreases a survivor’s chance of recurrence, but improves quality of life after cancer. The seeds for the Triumph Fitness Program were planted with these thoughts in mind.

Pam cycling in a race

When I was diagnosed back in 2000, there was very little support on the internet, and for a uterine cancer survivor in her mid-thirties, there was virtually nothing. Even the concept of “survivorship” was just being introduced. I found my own support when I discovered the Livestrong Foundation – an organization that truly addressed the needs of a survivor as a whole. I embraced my survivorship and the feeling of hope that Livestrong brought to me. I became an advocate and fundraiser for the Foundation and each year, my husband and I have participated in the Livestrong Challenge fundraising bike rides in both California and Texas.

Pam receiving an award

In October of 2004, I was recognized for my outreach efforts by the Livestrong Foundation, receiving the Lori Tilton Memorial Peloton Project Triumph Award. This award was given to one individual each year who exemplified the spirit of the Foundation through their own efforts to raise awareness and funds for Livestrong.  The Foundation presented me with an award – a $5,000 check to fund a cancer survivorship program in my own community.  Based upon my own experiences, I knew creating some sort of cancer fitness program was what I wanted to do. Nothing like it existed in the Sacramento Metro area. The Triumph Fitness Program came into being thanks to this initial seed money from the Livestrong Foundation.

In October 2005, we launched our first program in Sacramento. Initially, I elected to team up with the UC Davis Cancer Center as the administrator of the program.  UCD’s role was to coordinate with interested participants. I was responsible for raising all funds necessary to run the program as well as for outreach in the community. I created a partnership with a local health-related organization, developed the criteria for our Triumph Instructors, and set up relationships with small fitness facilities to offer our program.

Pam crossing the finish line in a cycling race

Throughout the years, one of the biggest challenges I have faced is keeping Triumph Fitness funded. Since this program is offered at no cost to any adult cancer survivor, it requires a significant amount of funding to stay operational. After many years of reaching out for private individual donations, in 2011 I decided it was time to plan a formal large scale fundraiser to help not only raise needed funds, but also awareness about Triumph in our community. Our annual Triumph Uncorked event debuted in 2011.  Our event is an evening of Triumph with guests enjoying a gourmet picnic accompanied by wine and a concert in a picturesque setting.

The outcome of our inaugural Triumph Uncorked event was an outpouring of support for Triumph.  It became clear that the time was right to finally form a nonprofit to enable us to meet the growing demand for the Triumph Fitness Program.  In the Fall of 2011, the Triumph Cancer Foundation, Inc. was formed with a Board of Directors who have a passion for our mission working together to develop a strategic plan for the future. The Triumph Cancer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity based in Sacramento, California.  Since its inception, Triumph Fitness has now expanded to four locations in the metro area, with a fifth location soon to be introduced.

Today, I continue to thrive as a cancer survivor and advocate.  As an architect, I strive to design homes that inspire our clients and are sensitive to the environment.  As a cancer survivor, my goal is, and will always be, to inspire other survivors and to make the cancer journey a bit easier through the work of the Triumph Cancer Foundation.

Pam Whitehead, Founder & Cancer Survivor