January 1, 1950 – June 8, 2009

In June of 2009, the Ovarian Cancer Orange County Alliance was once again saddened to the core at the loss of a board member -- our cherished friend, Pam Dukes.

There was nothing this lovely, soft-spoken woman couldn’t do!  Pam was kind, gracious, tremendously talented and enormously capable.  She was active in all areas of the Alliance as she continued to battle cancer. 

She served as Treasurer of OCOCA and was its Fundraising chair.  She planned and coordinated a number of events, including two successful Season of Excitement luncheon/fashion shows, which she managed to organize and oversee while juggling chemotherapy treatments. Pam also volunteered to work information tables at countless health fairs, runs, walks and conferences.

OCOCA board and volunteers were delighted last year when Pam was honored as one of the recipients of the O.C. Register’s Spirit of Volunteerism Award for her work with the Alliance.  Recipients of this award are chosen because of their commitment, time and effort toward improving the lives of others. She certainly qualified for this honor. 

Pam was also a valued member of the OCOCA Speakers Bureau, telling her personal cancer story to community and civic groups and to third year medical students at UCI.  Everyone listened intently when she spoke, marveling at the depth of her courage and strength, and amazed   that a woman who had endured so many challenges in her on-going cancer battle, could remain so calm and serene when she talked about them.

In her speaking engagements, when mentioning the lessons she had learned in her journey, she said:  “Living with cancer you learn to draw upon your inner strength and just celebrate or embrace each day as special.”  And Pam did just that.

In addition to her own efforts for the Ovarian Cancer Orange County Alliance, she rounded up her wonderful, supportive, loving family to help out with our events. They were there for her and the ovarian cancer cause at every turn.

Her sisters, Diane Sonnenberg and Vicki Welch, Diane’s talented husband, Steve, who became our official event photographer, daughter Kim Ryerson and son Michael, and the grandchildren, Andrew, Brendan and Mikayla Ryerson, and Jake Dukes remain some of OCOCA’s greatest supporters. 

What a legacy Pam left. She is a sterling example of what wondrous things can be accomplished in a short time – and what a stunning, lasting impact one woman can have on the lives of others. She was truly a joy to know and will forever be an inspiration for all of us.


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