True Grit on the Eastern Shore

Pamela Robbins is proud of the fact she plays a role in the making of the crumbs the general public knows and loves as “Stove Top Stuffing.” The Eastern Shore resident works for Kraft General Foods in a plant near her home. Even when she discovered she had breast cancer, she still gamely moved lids weighing 30 pounds each and maneuvered a forklift to position 100-pound totes which balloon to 500 pounds once they contain product.

“We bake the crumbs, dry them out, and get them into totes. I am moving constantly,” Pamela says. When the crumbs come out of the dryers they go into a tank “which only holds so much. I have to get that one tote off and put another one on before the crumbs spill over the tank and start a back-up. That tote comes up to my chin, so I have to throw the lid up into the air to get it on. Pamela is expected to move at least 85totes each eight-hour shift, but has been on a hiatus for more than a year.

The 47-year-old has three daughters – all living at home, including the husband of her 27-year-old – plus cares for a 14-year-old she lovingly dubs her “niece” and is expecting her first grandchild this August: “all reasons I need to get back to work full-time and do something to help my family.”

Diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2009, the Dorchester County resident receives treatment at Shore Regional Cancer Center in Easton. Since her initial diagnosis, her cancer has advanced and now is in her hips.

“My job only had short-term disability. I was paid for 20 weeks — $104 a week. It’s not enough between the house and the children’s (needs),” says Pamela, who found a savior in the form of Patty Plaskon, an oncology social worker at the Cancer Center and The Red Devils contact for patient services.

“Patty is my angel. When I fell behind, she put me in touch with The Red Devils, because it took a while for the food stamps to come in. The Red Devils were a blessing. They provided meals and groceries and helped me with some of my expenses when I fell behind and that’s when Patty called them again and they told her ‘we have the extra funds to help Pamela.’

Breast cancer changed my life. I go to church now. I am more thankful. I appreciate my children a lot more and I am grateful to be here,” says Pamela, moved – at this point – to tears. “Before, I was thinking no one cared about me, but now I know that many do care.”

Medical doctors have not yet cleared Robbins to return to the job she loves. But The Red Devils are behind her 100 percent.