A Sheffield woman with terminal cancer who continues to attend her grandson’s football games while she battles against the destructive disease has been hailed as a Parent in Sport hero.
Pamela Mellars, 71, was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2012 and doctors told her that the disease was incurable. In the face of her illness, she has continued to cheer on her grandson, Ben, at his football matches for Aston Swallownest.
Angela Sharp, Pamela’s daughter, has nominated her mum as part of Parent in Sport Week for the support she gives to Ben, aged 13, as he develops his football skills.
Angela said: “I’ve nominated my mum as part of Parent in Sport Week because she’s always shown an interest in Ben’s footballing ever since he started playing eight years ago. She’s so enthusiastic about the sport and at his games.
“Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with terminal skin cancer in 2012 which came as a huge blow to the entire family. Since finding out about her illness, my mum has been knocked back time and time again as the disease develops.
“She’s had a number of operations to try and fix the skin cancer as it was incredibly aggressive. She’s had to have her eye and parts of her skull removed to get rid of the cancer.
“Last year she was also diagnosed with lung cancer which resulted in the removal of a quarter of her lung. This has had a massive effect on her breathing and she gets worn out easily.
“On top of all of this, my dad Michael passed away in February of this year. He had primary-progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) and my mum was his main carer for a number of years. Unfortunately, when she became ill she struggled to keep this up.”
Four years on from her first diagnosis, Pamela is still attending her grandson Ben’s football games whenever she can. Ben has played for Aston Swallownest since he was four-years-old and is currently part of the Under 14s team.
“In spite of all that life’s thrown at her, my mum has still continued to show her support for Ben by cheering him on at his matches.
“My mum grew up with football, it’s her background. Her brother, Andy Burgin, even played for Sheffield Wednesday so it’s in her blood.
“She is so focused on the sport, it’s all she ever watches. She and Ben are constantly chatting about the latest matches. She is the person my son talks to about football, she advises him, guides him and loves him very much.
“To look at her, you’d think she was this frail, little old lady – 71 years old, weighing six-and-a-half stone – but she’s the toughest person I know. Everyone thinks she’s amazing and she really is so strong.
“Mum still goes to the hospital quite regularly these days but she’s coping. She’s getting better every day and we think she is finally cancer free – fingers crossed!
“I am incredibly proud of my mum for how she’s dealt with everything over the past few years, especially for how supportive she is of Ben.
“I want her to know how much it means to me and Ben that she continues to come to his football matches and show such enthusiasm about this sport that they both love.
“She is one tough cookie.”