After Debbie B. felt a lump in her breast, she immediately went to get a mammogram which confirmed breast cancer. It was a small lump but it was Her2neu, a very rare protein that can cause the cancer to be more aggressive. She received 12 weeks of chemotherapy as well as one full year of Herceptin therapy to decrease the aggressiveness of the Her2neu gene. Debbie chose to have a double mastectomy and has been on oral medication to decrease the reoccurrence for almost 5 years. She took her last pill on September 30th, 2013. "It feels amazing to know I have beat breast cancer! Five years ago when I heard those dreaded words, I had feelings of fear and doubt. Five years seems like such a long time but in all actuality it goes by so fast. I accomplished what my oncologist and I set out as my treatment plan and today I did it! Accomplished my goal and am here-I am OK!!!" Within the 5 years since being diagnosed, both of Debbie's daughters got married and she now has 3 beautiful grandchildren which have been huge motivators in her getting better. She also said, "Once I stopped wondering 'why me?' and said 'why not me? I can beat this! I have amazing love and support of family and friends and great medical care' I became much stronger. Remove the negative thoughts and move on."
When were you diagnosed?
Are you cancer-free? If so, for how long?
Yes - 5 years this year!!!!!!!!
How have your family and friends helped you?
My husband and daughters saw me through every step of my diagnosis, treatment, surgery, and recovery. This process has been scary for me and I know they felt the same - fear of the unknown. It is the 3 of them that I wish to thank.
What tips do you have to help other breast cancer survivors stay positive?
Know that cancer can 'rear' its ugly head in any of lives but we will not let it 'take over' all the good in our lives with family and friends
What has someone done to make you feel better?
The worst day of my life was when my physician told me 'you have breast cancer.' That day I phoned a friend, a breast cancer survivor, and the first words she said to me 'Debbie, you are going to be alright.' Those words still bring tears to my eyes
What advice would you give someone who is about to go through treatment?
Believe! Believe in yourself. Believe in the support and love of family and friends. You are stronger than cancer!
What was the scariest moment?
The day I had to tell my daughters I had breast cancer. I knew how those words had tipped my world upside down - how I felt, all the thoughts going through my mind. I was scared as to what those words would do to their lives.
What was the funniest moment?
The day my husband shaved my head! I only knew myself with hair - was not sure how I would feel without it. He was nervous but he did it and I loved it! It was liberating and I smiled and laughed at myself for days!!!!
How has breast cancer made you stronger?
I have realized I had more strength, willpower, believe in myself and determination than I ever imagined! I will not allow cancer to consume my life but I have allowed it to make sure I enjoy more, learn more and love more!