Pam Davis has found a way to give the phrase ‘back in the saddle’ much greater meaning.
Davis, a Paw Paw resident, was involved in a head-on car collision 31 years ago that shattered her heel. Because of the injury she was diagnosed with osteomyelitis, an infection in bone and bone marrow.
The injuries didn’t stop there. Five years ago, Davis tore her Achilles tendon while playing tennis. After receiving surgery for the injury she was diagnosed with cancer in the scar tissue.
Her right leg was amputated just below the knee.
“After that, you’re so devastated by what has happened to you that you get into a very dark, bleak place,” Davis said.
Davis found a way out of the bleakness by rediscovering some of her old hobbies.
“Running, horses and tennis brought me out of that,” she said.
Davis started to find more and more comfort each time she ran and eventually began participating in 5k races.
“I started running again and adding miles,” she said. “I really got involved in running. I started running more 5k’s. I’d have to say it helped me. Between the horses and the running it just got me to a better place.”
Despite the terrifying diagnosis, Davis said she was actually able to do more following the amputation than she was able to do prior to it.
“One of the things they said when I was going to have my leg amputated was ‘you’re lucky. It’ll be less painful, less challenging and you’ll be able to do more,’” she said. “Although some days it’s not all that lucky, they’re right. I can do more.”
Like many amputees, Davis was told to pay attention to her limitations. Instead, she is exceeding them, if not ignoring them entirely.
“You know, when somebody says ‘you can’t do something,’ I say ‘damn, I’m going to do it and I’m going to do it as good as I can,’” she said.
Davis will be running in the 10k event on Sunday, May 4 during Borgess Run for the Health of It.
Through running, Davis became involved with Kalamazoo Area Runners.
“I just started [running] by myself and since then I’ve met a lot of great people and got involved with Kalamazoo Area Runners,” she said. “I want to start doing more volunteering with them just to stay involved and learn more.”
Kalamazoo Area Runners, or KAR, is a 501(c)(3) organization that helps people use running as a source of physical, spiritual and social wellness. The organization was founded as the Mail City Pacers in 1967 and the name was changed to its current one in 2002.
KAR has introduced Davis to many fellow runners and has given her the opportunity to share her story.
“I have a lot of support from people I meet on the run. I’ve met some great people,” she said. “I have a lot of people walk up and say, ‘you inspired me to try to do this,’ and if I can help just one person then it’s all worth it.”
Throughout all of Davis’ setbacks and triumphs she has carried one message with her.
“You have to put faith in sticking with what you love and if you love it you can do it,” she said. “Doesn’t matter how hard it is, you can do it.”
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