Community Supporting Business Owner After Cancer Diagnosis


A cancer diagnosis can be devastating to anyone. But the impact can be even larger for a small business owner, since it’s not always possible to take a break without losing income.

This has been the case for Pam O’Neill, owner of Pam’s Monogram in House Springs, Missouri. Her sewing and embroidery business has been part of the community since 2010. But this year, a breast cancer diagnosis and double mastectomy procedure forced the shop to close for about a month, since the shop is just run by O’Neill and her husband, who has had his own health challenges.

O’Neill recently told First Alert 4, “We have people’s jobs here we haven’t been able to get finished. The bills, we have payments on the machines and everything like that, if we can’t get back above water we will have to close before the end of the year. We’ve gotten response from several people out in the community, ‘please don’t close – we’ve been coming to you as long as you’ve been open.’”

Because the business has been such a big part of the community, customers and other business owners have banded together to support the couple through this tough time. Specifically, Lindsay Schultheiss, who owns Schultheiss Photography in town, set up a GoFundMe and organized bake sales with proceeds benefiting O’Neill.

Schultheiss told First Alert 4, “My heart just sank and I was just thinking of any way I could help her, financially.”

Since Schultheiss is also a small business owner, she likely understands the unique challenges that could arise when you’re responsible for all of your own operations. Though there are many benefits of owning a small business, it can be tough to manage personal health challenges if you don’t have paid time off or systems in place to keep things moving while you’re out.

Luckily, O’Neill’s active presence in the community has led to tons of support during this tough time. It’s not always enough to keep small businesses open. But these acts of kindness can often help bridge the gap for entrepreneurs who need it.

Image: Shutterstock

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.