By Ruth Ann Ruiz
The Post Features Editor
Making a move and taking a new job is one of those life changes that brings a lot of stress. Doing all of it in the middle of a pandemic surely adds even more stress. Then, learning you have breast cancer? Well, that is enough to make anyone a bit over the moon with anxiety.
Page Michel came to Galveston County last July to work for the Texas City-La Marque Chamber of Commerce before officially taking over as the new President and CEO in January.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Michel, a believer in early detection for breast cancer, presented herself at UTMB in League City to get her annual mammogram. There were suspicious looking developments on that first visit into UTMB which required further diagnosis, but she remembers her OBGYN telling her whatever it was they were going to take care of her before being enveloped into the gentle, supportive services of MD Anderson’s Breast Cancer care.
“My OBGYN was right, they took care of me. I felt like this move was a God thing when it first happened, and then being so close to such great cancer care, I knew it was a blessing from God,” said Michel. She and her family had been living in Brenham where she would have had to drive a good distance (a 240-mile round trip) to get treatment had she not already relocated.
Her care included a biopsy which revealed the cancer was at stage zero. From there, she had a lumpectomy. Because the margins were not clear of cancer, she underwent a second lumpectomy and removal of some of her lymph nodes.
“I told the doctor just to take it all, I was ready to lose my breasts if it meant saving my life,” said Michel, who had recently lost a close family member to breast cancer.
Michel entered radiation treatment which will last through the end of April.
“I’m planning (that) by May, they will tell me I’m cancer free. Women need to stop what they are doing and take care of themselves, get a yearly mammogram,” Michel stated, as she speaks with confidence as a woman who knows early detection is extremely important in surviving breast cancer.
Living with breast cancer doesn’t make a person qualified for a job and that was not on her plate when Michel was hired for the position. She was recruited for her track record in working with various Chambers of Commerce.
Former chairman of the board of directors for TCLMCC, Russell Plackemeier stated, “Her strong ability to connect with small and large business and her charisma and passion for Chamber work were the main factors that contributed to her getting the position.”
Current Chairwoman of the Chamber Board Georgia Meyer Barzilay said, “She was the most qualified of all the candidates we had. Her enthusiasm, knowledge and experience were the best.”
Michel came to the job with 25 years of work in Chamber of Commerce positions which included serving as President of Washington County’s Chamber of Commerce.
Her background as an English major with an emphasis in broadcasting prepared her to be able to handle the intense communications skills required of a Chamber of Commerce leader. Having spent part of her honeymoon in Galveston and enjoying time with her husband’s family in Houston and San Leon gives her a personal connection to the region.
Michel has two sons in college. The move and new position came at a perfect time for her as she enters a new stage in her adult life. Breast cancer was not part of her plans but is now part of her journey.
Michel is facing her challenges with courage and strength. “I have strong faith and I’m not going to let it get the best of me,” said Michel.
“Page has not missed a beat. She has kept working through all of it. We admire her so much and we are fully behind her,” said Meyer Barzilay.