Pat Lamont, Cancer Activist, 61
By Diana Sevanian
Signal Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
ighting fire with fire.
That is what Pat Foley-Lamont did upon discovering she had metastatic breast cancer in 1995. Although the disease had spread to her liver, bones and lymph nodes, LaMont did not accept a terminal diagnosis as a death sentence. Instead, she fought back with a determination to survive ‹ and a desire to help others affected by cancer. Now eight years after hearing she had six-months to a year to live, LaMont finally lost that battle.
She died on Friday at the age of 61.
"She was a fighter for everything and everyone," said her husband of 37 years, Barry LaMont. "She never thought of herself, always others. She was so compassionate ... she never carried a grudge against anybody. She just loved people."
Born on Nov. 26, 1941, in Burbank, LaMont grew up in Sherman Oaks and attended the University of Arizona. She owned her own insurance business and worked out of the family's Valencia home. The couple has two adult sons, Chris and Clint.
Barry LaMont said his wife's health had been declining of late. She entered Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital on Aug. 1 and was there three weeks, suffering from a severe cancer-related lung infection. This was her third bout with the illness as she had survived a recurrence of breast cancer in the previously unaffected breast in early 2001.
"She always thought she would not die from this but when she started on pain medication this time and did not understand what was going on I tried to explain to her," he said, noting he tried to make her grasp the seriousness of her condition upon bringing her home to die.
"As I tried to tell her I started crying ... she put her hand on my face and said everything would be OK and that she loved me," he said. "That was the last thing she said to me."
In 1995 following LaMont's diagnosis she became part of a historic clinical trial and was one of the first recipients of a UCLA experimental HER-2/neu antibody gene therapy treatment ‹ used to halt tumor growth and make the cancer cells more susceptible to chemotherapy. (HER-2 is an abbreviation for "human epidermal growth factor receptor-2," a gene that plays a role in uncontrolled cancer cell growth.) Only months after finishing that state-of-the art therapy, LaMont's medical tests revealed no evidence of disease.
In a 2000 Signal interview, she credited that treatment with saving her life.
Her contributions to cancer care and accolades for such were many. In 1999, LaMont started the Cancer Care Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to improving cancer treatment in the Santa Clarita Valley. In January of 2000 she was honored as the KNX Newsradio "Citizen of the Week" for her endeavors toward improving the community and demonstrating outstanding achievement. She helped raise funds for UCLA cancer research and HMNMH cancer services, and spoke publicly on breast cancer, including TV interviews with Tom Brokaw. She was one of the first testimonial speakers for the Valencia Acura/Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital Breast Cancer Awareness Program.
"Pat LaMont was very dedicated to the importance of early detection and spoke eloquently about her constant fight against cancer," said Diana Vose, president of the Newhall Memorial Health Foundation. "She fought this battle for many years successfully because, I believe, her outlook was focused on helping others, rather than dwelling on herself. Her ability to raise funds to promote research, detection and treatment of cancer has helped this community to benefit from her efforts and deal with a disease that has taken too many of our very special Santa Clarita citizens."
Services for LaMont are pending at this time.
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