Tackling Cancer at Center Stage
A force of nature
By all accounts, Julie Pabian is a force to be reckoned with.
Self-described as bubbly, outgoing and happy to be the center of attention, Julie was blissfully unaware of the avalanche of ways her life would change at age 35.
“I just knew I didn't have anything to worry about at all,” Julie said about her first mammogram.
In the details
It’s funny the details she can remember about that day nine years ago.
The extreme heat.
Where she was sitting and the clothes she was folding.
The exact date and time.
They were all minor details to a major moment – the moment she found out she had cancer.
“He called and told me, ‘You have ductile carcinoma in situ,’” said Julie. “I knew just enough to know that was cancer, and I didn’t hear another word after that.”
A long journey
In her treatment, Julie underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction – and the road was anything but smooth. She struggled with infection, rejections and medications that affected her personality and mood.
“I struggled with deep, deep depression,” said Julie. “I was like Jekyll and Hyde. I was not quite myself, unapproachable and unfriendly to those people I love and respect. I exploded one day at the lady at the front desk of the Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center and I was mortified. That’s just not me. We finally realized the medications I was on were affecting my mood.”
For six years, Julie’s life was a roller coaster of surgeries, doctor visits and emotional challenges. Just when she thought one battle was over, the cancer returned. So she fought twice – this time including chemotherapy and radiation – and won. Today, Julie is cancer-free.
“I’ve often asked myself what was the hardest part,” said Julie. “Was it the waiting? The thought you might have cancer? The waiting to get your diagnosis or figure out what you are going to do? Surgery? Recovery? Radiation? I truly think that the hardest part is after you are done with treatment. Before, I always had a doctor looking at me. Now I’m finally fine and I’m always wondering when the cancer is coming back.”
One way Julie copes is by giving back. She uses her outgoing nature to help other cancer survivors through their journey. She volunteers for Project Pink’d, has attended programs with A Time to Heal, and is a member of the Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center Patient Family Advisory Council.
This week, she will also lend her time and talent to the Cancer Survivor Style Show.
“I'm really excited.”
This year will mark Julie’s fourth year walking in the Cancer Survivor Style Show, sponsored by Methodist. The annual event raises cancer awareness and funds for Inner Beauty: A Specialty Salon for Cancer Survivors. Located at Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center, the salon is about more than beauty. It's about healing, on the inside and out.
“The style show gives me the opportunity to get out of myself,” said Julie. “I wear things that I normally wouldn't wear, do my hair in new ways and even get a few makeup pointers. The people at Methodist and Inner Beauty are just amazing people. They are loving individuals and this is one time of year that I really look forward to because I can go out and get dolled up.”
This year’s show will be another event to remember. A fabulous event that is part of Omaha Fashion Week, the style show will take place Thursday, March 1st at the Omaha Design Center, located at 1502 Cuming Street. The annual show is a celebration of survivorship and style. It’s also an opportunity for Julie to put her cancer battle behind her and her personality on full display.
“I walk out there and I swear to you I am Beyoncé.”