For nearly 15 years I have watched my friend, mentor and former employer, Pam Mikkelsen Brown, struggle with chronic, intractable head and neck pain.  After searching for answers from many different medical providers from multiple disciplines a neurosurgeon finally made a diagnosis of Chiari I Malformation.   Patients with Chiari 1 Malformation suffer from pressure on the cerebellum and brain stem that may affect functions controlled by these areas and block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)—the clear liquid that surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord.  When the fluid builds up on the brain, patients often experience a host of debilitating issues which include pain, confusion, and problems with balance.

In 2008 Pam had her first cerebral decompression surgery.  This surgery is a common surgery done in patients with Chiari Malformations.  The neurosurgeon removed the bone beneath her cerebellum and part of her 1st vertebrae, in hopes that the fluid would be able to drain from the brain.  The surgery helped for about a year, but the effects began to fail as fluid began to build back up in her skull pressing on her brain. She began having horrific headaches, balance issues and suffered from near constant confusion.  Pam was then diagnosed with hydrocephalus.  A shunt was inserted in her brain to remove the fluid and pressure that was on the brain.   This procedure was followed by multiple brain surgeries, including 2 new shunts.  Due to all the complications that come with a shunt, and a condition called slit ventricles (ventricles that transport spinal fluid from the brain are abnormally small and cannot move the fluid out as easily), Pam’s health never really improved, she has exhibited numerous other issues all brought on by the Chiari Malformation and the shunt complications. 

Pam is a 52-year-old single mother of 2 college students.  Pam worked for years in the marketing/advertising industry.  Pam was driven and had a successful career.  Pam was and still is very respected in our community (Mobile and Baldwin Counties in Alabama).  Pam started her own business at a young age (Concept Promotions, in Daphne Alabama) where she worked successfully until her early 40's.  Pam was in the prime of her career when the condition first manifested itself.

I have watched Pam's health decline as her pain beat her down day after day (for the last 12 years).  One thing never changed. Pam always got up and put her big girl panties on.  She continued to work every day, run a business, attend client meetings and ALL of her children's school and sporting events.  Despite the pain and confusion, she managed to have a hot home cooked meal prepared for her family every morning and every  night and continued to run her household as a healthy mother would do.  Pam did not complain,  – she suffered in silence.

As Pam's condition progressed, life marched on.  Things changed and Pam could no longer be the super mom, career driven lady she once was.  Pam began to miss out on life,  her children's lives.  This was the most heartbreaking side of her condition.  Her son was a baseball player and due to her failing health, she was rarely able to attend his games.  She missed moving her children into their college dorms.  She has been unable to visit them on their parents’ weekends. It has truly been heartbreaking and frustrating to watch.

Pam ultimately had to end her working career.  She has received disability benefits from the private sector for 2 years, awaiting social security disability benefits.  She has basically been a shut in for those 2 years.  Pam can no longer drive.  She is dependent on family and friends to help her with her daily tasks (grocery shopping, bill pay, dr. appointments, etc.).  There are times she has barely made it through the month on her current income.  The burden of everyday life dependent on others compounded by the mounting medical bills and monthly prescription costs is overwhelming and has become financially impossible.

As a friend and a mother, watching Pam navigate her illness, has been incredibly difficult to witness. I honestly do not know how she has kept her faith and her fight. Pam is a fighter, and she has never given up her fight or her faith.  Seeing Pam in physical pain is hard. The financial strain of not being able to work has added emotional stress, leaving her with understandable fear of not only her physical well-being, but also her financial future – it is becoming unbearable. Watching her miss her children’s important life events is more than heartbreaking. This condition has completely robbed her of so much of her life.  That is why we are looking to the benevolence that is inherent in so many strangers to her and to her current situation.  Pam needs help.  

The money raised through GoFundMe will allow Pam to have a surgery that has an 80% chance of giving her back some quality of life.  The surgery is a Posterior Fossa Decompression and Posterior Fossa Revision to be performed by a world-renowned Neurosurgeon, Dr. Paolo Bolognese.  The procedure will be done at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside New York.  The GoFundMe account is being set up to cover the cost of the surgery that is not covered by insurance and her travel accommodations to and from New York as well as accommodations for 5-10 days after her release from the hospital. This surgery will not correct the damage already done, but it will give her a great chance at gaining the quality of life that she so desperately prays for every day.  This will give her hope.  This will change her life.

The cost breakdown is as follows:

Cost of surgery is $79,719.00 (Hospital); Pam is responsible for 20% (approximately $16,000)

Deductible is $12,000;

Dr. Bolognese’s Fee - has not been determined yet, but Pam’s insurance will only cover 60%.

Travel and Accommodations for Pam and 1 person to assist with Hotel stay and traveling $5,000

Follow up visits to New York, (Minimum of 3 return visits) 

Amount needed to be raised approximately $75,0000

Your donation is desperately needed and will be greatly appreciated. 

I would like to thank all in advance for your donations.  You will never know what a gift you are to this wonderful woman.

May you all have a happy, healthy holiday season.


 See top
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 1 hr
  • Beth Davis 
    • $100 
    • 2 d
  • Anonymous 
    • $200 
    • 8 d
  • Anna Noblitt 
    • $20 
    • 8 d
  • Robert Gill 
    • $100 
    • 10 d
See all


Fairhope, AL
  • #1 fundraising platform

    More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more

  • GoFundMe Guarantee

    In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more

  • Expert advice, 24/7

    Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more