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The Inspiring Pamela Martin
Written by Fresh Vancouver   

Pamela MartinPamela Martin’s lovely visage is well-known: anchor of CTV News At Six for almost a decade, preceded by more than twenty years with BCTV news. A ground-breaking pioneer of women in the media, this vibrant figure is a major contributor to breast cancer awareness, raising funds to facilitate this important research.

We spoke with Pamela Martin about the upcoming Run for the Cure this October, plus her spirituality, family, career, and the secrets of how she stays so young…

Fresh Vancouver (FV): You were the first female reporter for CKNW radio and the first female anchor of a major newscast for BCTV. What was it like in those early years?

Pamela Martin: It was pretty exciting in those days to have the opportunity. It’s strange to think that 30 years ago, some questioned whether women could do the job. I had to convince people at CKNW that I could manage dead bodies, hanging out at the police station, horrible things I might have to witness as a reporter.
Now women anchor national newscasts, are news directors, even network presidents. We have broken through the glass ceiling – it seems so odd now that we even had those thoughts.

FV: You give back to the community extensively with the United Way, the Canadian Cancer Society, the BC AIDS Society, and more... Tell us about your motivation.

Pamela: In the news business, constantly dealing with negative things can skew your view of the world. Every plane crash... every domestic murder... you have to remember that there are wonderful things happening, too. Bringing attention to a situation in even a small way and helping people is incredibly fulfilling. I feel very fortunate to be in this position, able to have some impact.

FV: How has your spirituality been affected by seeing so much negativity?

Pamela: You become more conscious of it. You don’t know how long you’ll live, so you really have to live in the present. Look to the future and learn from the past, but treasure what you are doing right now. I try to live like that every day, but it’s hard.
A friend told me: imagine your life starting at zero and continuing to the end of your life, let’s say 100. Look where you are on that scale and you realize, this is all I have left: 30 more Christmases, 30 more summers to pick blueberries. How many more times will I spend with my family? My mother is 83, and she lives in Florida now, so I only see her about three times a year. And I was thinking (this is going to make me cry) how many more times am I going to see her? What if it’s five?
[Pauses to wipe tears from her eyes.]

You should live your life making sure your values direct your decisions. That has a spiritual overlay; being conscious of your connections to people and what might exist beyond our reality. Most of us become more aware of this as we get older.

FV: Let’s talk about your work with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and the Run for the Cure. Finding a cure for breast cancer is particularly close to your heart...

Pamela: It is, although I was doing stories about breast cancer at the very beginning of my career. People didn’t talk about breast cancer back then, and there was not very much research being done.

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation was founded in 1991 in Vancouver, and people have been talking about it ever since. The impact has been undeniable. Since 1986, the death rate from breast cancer has dropped by more than 30 percent -- which is a lot of lives. It is still today the number-one killer of women – over 5,000 women in Canada every year. But a diagnosis is not a death sentence anymore thanks to the latest research, early detection and women getting their mammograms.

It became personal when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is truly one of the great examples of what modern medicine can do. My mother was the recipient of all that had come before, and if things hadn’t changed, she probably wouldn’t have survived.

FV: This October will be the third year in a row you’ve had your own team in the Run for the Cure. Tell us a little about Team Pamela...

Pamela: The Run for the Cure is such a great event. It’s a real bonding of families and women of all ages. Some teams have been together for years, often supporting a person suffering from breast cancer, or running in honour of someone they’ve lost.

Last year the Run for the Cure raised $26.5 million across Canada – in one day! We know it’s saving lives. I’m so grateful to CTV for sponsoring the run. It’s allowed me to get much more involved and to broadcast to a wider audience.

FV: Do you train for the run?

Pamela: When I was just doing it on my own, I did. But now I’m the emcee and do interviews with CTV during the run, so I don’t have time to participate! But I’m not a big runner. It’s just not my sport.

FV: What is your sport?

Pamela: My favourite sport is skiing. In the summer, my husband and I go out on our boat and we love to swim in the ocean. I also do Pilates, but I prefer being active and outdoors to being stuck in a gym. Doing as many sports as I can makes it fun, but you’re also exercising. Hiking, horseback riding, ice skating, skiing, swimming – I’ve done these things all my life.

My mom is my role model. At 83, she could beat everyone in the family at tennis! Recently, though, she had a hip replaced... so now, she’s a table tennis champion!

FV: What are your favourite hot spots for boating and hiking?

Pamela: BC is so beautiful.... I love to combine a great resort and a bit of luxury with the hiking and boating. In a few days, we’re going to Poet’s Cove on Pender Island. There’s a beautiful resort in Bidwell Harbour. A couple of years ago we went to Rockwater Resort on the Sunshine Coast. Really nice pool, great restaurant, and fabulous luxury “tents” – that’s my kind of camping!

FV: Did your mother give you the anti-aging techniques that have kept you so young and vibrant?

Pamela: When I was about 12 years old, she told me to use Nivea cream on my entire body every day. I owe the health of my skin to using a lot of moisturizer over the years. She also told me: wash your face with soap and water, then rinse with ice-cold water. I guess it’s to close the pores – I don’t really know. But I do it every day!

My mother is also a very engaged person – she’s a Bronze Life Master at bridge and she’s extremely active. That’s another key: keep your mind engaged as well as your body. Beauty really does come from within, and I think this is the real secret to aging well.

FV: Is there any product that you can’t live without?

Pamela: I love L’Occitane shea butter cream. Also, my friend Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia owns the Absolute Spa at the Century, and I go there as much as I can. She has a lot of products that I love. I use drugstore products too, though! I actually use the nine-dollar Lubriderm with SPF 15 now... on my face!

FV: At Fresh Vancouver, we define beauty as being comfortable in the skin you’re in, whether that means getting your hair done or having a cosmetic surgery...

Pamela: I totally agree – I make no judgements about it. The only thing I object to is when women have so much surgery that they look like a different person. That’s just sad. With surgery or any of these new procedures, do as much or as little as you personally feel like doing. But I don’t think it’s a great idea to tell people about it! Isn’t that the point – that you want it to be subtle? You just want to look like a better, fresher version of yourself.

FV: What is it like to be constantly in the limelight and having to worry about appearance?

Pamela: The only way to really deal with it is to not let it bother you. I try to get away as often as I can, boating in the Gulf Islands where hair and makeup aren’t a consideration. I have to admit I always wear lipstick, though! There’s always one thing you have to have, and for me it’s my lipstick!

There is a certain amount of pressure on television. But in the end, I consider myself a journalist, and the actual work is communicating and reporting – it’s not about hairstyle or clothing. It’s human nature to notice these things, but as a newscaster I try to de-emphasize them. The image needs to be about credibility and trustworthiness, not about looking a certain way.

FV: What supplements do you take to ensure good health and ward off cancers and other major health
concerns?

Pamela: I take omega-3, vitamin D, and calcium every day, and vitamin C in the winter. I eat things like
flax seed and almonds every day. I try to do all the things I need to do to stay healthy!

FV: Twenty-five years ago you were having children while building your busy career in what was still very
much a man’s world…

Pamela: Yes. I wasn’t able to be as open about motherhood as women on television are today.  Luckily, I could modify my job, doing evening and weekend newscasts so I could be home as much as possible when my children were little.  And I always had live-in help. It’s a huge challenge and I think if a woman has a choice, it’s ideal  to focus on your kids and your career at different times – although again, that’s very tough to do. It’s a dilemma, and I have nothing but sympathy for women in that situation.

FV: You and your husband seem to have a great relationship! What do you do to keep the romance alive and healthy?

Pamela: We work hard at keeping our connection.  We each have our own busy, demanding lives,  so it’s important to consciously plan things together, to not let our relationship just drift. Having fun together is high on my list! Also, we have shared values which makes a big difference. Nothing is more important to us than our family.

FV: Any final words about your secrets for staying so fresh and vibrant in the face of chaotic schedules and the ticking of time?

Pamela: You just gotta keep running and jumping; that’s the way I look at it. Keep your joints moving and stretching, keep your outlook young, and then it doesn’t really matter.

Join Team Pamela in the 2010 Run for the Cure!

Run, walk, or jog to give your support in the CIBC Run for the Cure and help raise awareness and funds for the one in nine women who are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. You can make a difference!

Go to www.ctvbc.ca to join Team Pamela today!