Pamela Massey | 1946-2019

Pamela MasseyFor over 40 years, Pamela Massey was a passionate supporter of the Arthritis Foundation’s work to help those with arthritis better manage their chronic pain. As a physical therapist, Pamela saw a golden opportunity to help arthritis patients find solutions through physical activity and rehabilitation options. Time and time again, even after her unexpected 10-year journey with pancreatic cancer, she epitomized living life to its fullest.

In her professional career, Pamela was a health care administrator who oversaw the development and management of rehabilitation services organizations in a series of large, prestigious institutions. In her last position, she was the director of rehabilitation services at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where she built the first large-scale rehab system, with a staff of more than 150, specifically for recovering cancer patients. In her physical therapy work, she exemplified the strengths, leadership skills, vision and impact she brought to all her efforts. 

Pamela shared her energy and enthusiasm with the whole arthritis community. She was instrumental in developing the Arthritis Foundation’s first patient education and self-help tools. She served on numerous patient education, quality of life and governance committees and task teams. Pamela was an instrumental leader in the Foundation’s transition from direct program delivery to more flexible, personalized patient programming and engagement. She fostered partnerships between the Foundation and allied health professionals that have made possible current programming and much more to come.

In 2011, the Arthritis Foundation recognized Pamela’s contributions with our highest and most coveted Charles B. Harding Award for Distinguished Service, which salutes the organization’s top volunteers. In 2019, the Foundation created a new national award, the Pamela Massey Patient Partners Award, to honor her work and carry her legacy forward. Each year, this award recognizes a health care professional whose contributions have directly impacted the lives of arthritis patients. It acknowledges the value of partners teaming up with those patients and signifies the Foundation’s long-term commitment to developing such partnerships.

In addition, as seen in the updated Your Exercise Solution (YES) webpages, the Pamela Massey Patient Partner Resources Fund has made it possible for the Arthritis Foundation to develop bold and dynamic online programming. This includes a series of demonstration tools and easy to follow videos with patients and physical therapists demonstrating tangible ways to adapt and maintain mobility. Contributions made in her honor have fortified Pamela’s legacy to improve quality of life, provide access to physical therapy benefits to all and lower medical costs for people who are trying to take charge of a chronic disease like arthritis.

“During those 10 years after her cancer diagnosis, Pamela not only beat the odds but thrived,” says her husband, Michael. “Knowing how precious every moment was, she was relentless and determined in her fight, making every moment count. She could not be more honored to see her life’s work alive and glowing for health care professionals and patients alike. It is certain that Pamela’s work touched and improved the lives of millions.”