Debbie’s Story

On October 5th, 2016 we had the honor of working with 9 beautiful Breast Cancer survivors. They each wrote about their journey in their own words. 

October 22nd, 2009 was the day that changed my life. I had done a biopsy on the 20th and the doctor had just called to tell me the results.  “You have breast cancer. Not sure what type but you are a stage 2 or 3 and it’s aggressive.” “How can this be? I go to all my annual appointments?” I had just been in for my annual pap and breast exam in August and there was nothing.

In September I noticed a big lump on my right breast. I really didn’t think much of it.  My PA was on vacation so I scheduled my appointment for when she came back. No rush, it’s nothing.  When I finally got in, she checked me and said, “It’s probably not cancer but I want to make sure.”  I even joked with her how I wanted one on the other side because it made my boob look bigger.  She called Breastlink and from there it all began.  The mammogram hurt like hell. How can you squeeze any harder than what’s already been done to it? Then the ultra sound. They told me to wait for the doctors to go over my results.  Finally, I got called back to the room.  Dr. West’s PA came in and said they needed to do a biopsy and if I could do it that day.  I actually paused and considered how bad traffic would be for the ride home.  I live in Lake Elsinore and was in Orange.  But I didn’t want to drive all the way back so I decided to go ahead and have it done that day.  I got to watch the procedure on the computer.  It was really cool.  He told me he would call me in the next couple of days.  I wasn’t worried.  “Cancer doesn’t happen to me.”

Now here we are.  I called my husband and told him.  He told me it would all be ok.  Next I called my dad.  We prayed together and he said that I will get through this alright.  Next, I told my friend, who drove over right away.  I think she cried more than me.  She kept saying how it wasn’t fair.  I told her it would be ok.  I joked that maybe I would get my new boobs now.  She asked if I was going to work and I said, “why wouldn’t I?  I’m not going to sit around and feel sorry for myself.”  That night, we also had to sit down with our 11-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter and tell them I had cancer.  My daughter took it really hard.  But I assured them that I would be ok.  I also told them that I would always be upfront with them and tell them the truth of what was going to happen.

Not one time did I get mad or asked God, “why me?”  There was a reason why I got it.  That was my thinking.  My husband was pissed.  He didn’t understand why I got it when I go to all my regular doctor’s appointment, had all my check ups and did my mammograms.  I told him, “why not me?”  One in eight women get breast cancer.  I went through my family.  I have 4 sisters, my mom, aunt and cousin.  I went through every one and explained why they couldn’t go through it.  “I am the logical one.  I have a great support system, I don’t have to work, I have great insurance and I can handle it.”  When I explained it that way he saw where I was coming from but was still mad.  I told him things happen for a reason.

One of my friends, who had just finished the process of reconstruction, had invited me to her house to meet other women who had gone through it.  It was supposed to be just Kimbo and Janelle but more people were invited.  They explained what I would be going through and what to expect.  Then they all started talking about their procedures and the boobs all came out.  I don’t think I had ever seen so many boobs out in one place.  It was a little overwhelming but so helpful.  Women supporting each other.  It was so empowering.  And they kept saying “be positive and laugh a lot.”  Something I tell all the women I meet.

November 19 2009, was my first chemo.  I had 16 treatments every 3 weeks.  I was also able to participate in a research program with another chemo medicine.  I was pretty excited on being a part of this research and hopefully helping someone in the future.  Chemo was hard.  I got tired just taking a shower.  But I went to work every day.  I also made sure that the kids got to all their activities.  I didn’t want my kid’s lives to change because of what I was going through.  I made sure my son got to all of his football practices and games and that my daughter got to all her social events.  And that our day-to-day living didn’t really change.  Although looking back, I should have milked it more with my kids.

Exactly 14 days after my first chemo my hair started falling out.  I had promised my daughter that I would let her shave my head.  I was so grossed out in the shower when my hair came out in clumps.  I guess I was expecting it to just all fall out at once.  So that morning I went to work with a hat on.  When my kids came home from school, my friend came over and we had a great time shaving my head.  I let my kids draw on my head and we took pictures.  It was a nice time with my kids.  Being a part of what I was going through was important to the kids. I also wanted them to see that in a bad situation you can still be positive.

I finished chemo in April and had my double mastectomy on May 19, 2010, my son’s 12th birthday.  Poor guy got to spend it in the hospital.  I was ok with getting rid of both of them.  We had done our research and talked to all the doctors.  My plastic surgeon is the one who really convinced me to have them both taken out.  And watching my boobs grow every 4 to 6 weeks was cool.  Finally, in November 2010, I got my implants.  I was finally done!  A year of ups and down and I was finished.  No more cancer!

What an adventure this has been.  Everything I went through, I either learned something new or made a new friend.  All the procedures that I had to have done, I got to watch.  Which I thought was really interesting and cool.  How encouraging and kind all the technicians were.  I had so many amazing friends that helped, my family who were with me, and my husband and kids.  I also got to make new friends who were going through the same thing and I was able to help them.  I wouldn’t change a thing.  I’m glad God gave me this journey to go through.

 

Check out Kimberly’s Story HERE

Check out Kathy’s Story HERE

Check out Janelle’s Story HERE

Check out Maja’s Story HERE

Check out Crystal’s Story HERE

Check out Mary’s Story HERE

Check out Laura’s Story HERE

Check out Sylvia’s Story HERE

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