Monday, December 6, 1999, a diagnostic mammogram confirmed what
a needle biopsy had found the previous Friday.
breast cancer... IBC.
beyond belief, we muddled our way through the chaos of the following
I'm only 34.
I found a lump while I was nursing my baby.
there's no family history of breast cancer.
to all sorts of tests, wean the baby and begin chemotherapy the
day, I'm decorating for Christmas and the next I'm shopping for
3 months of chemotherapy, I had a double mastectomy, which led to
a day worse than initial diagnosis. The pathology report showed
an 8cm tumor. 12 out of 26 lymph nodes had cancer. Tumor margins
were not clear.
was still in my body.
months of chemotherapy with weekly infusions of Herceptin were followed
by six weeks of radiation.
show no cancer! Hallelujah!
breast cancer is a wicked, insidious strain of cancer that is little
understood, almost unheard of both inside and outside of the medical
better my chances of keeping it at bay, I had a hysterectomy two
months after radiation. I had life-threatening complications, but
a few people said to me, "Aren't you glad this is behind you now?"
I was angry and hurt. Then I realized that they couldn't possibly
understand that this is never over. IBC likes to come back. That
ball of terror sits in the pit of my stomach every three months
as I wait for the results of my latest CT scan.
have to hit this with all the big guns. I continue to get Herceptin
by IV every three weeks. I take an anti-cancer pill daily that blocks
estrogen from forming in my body. I take about 20 pills a day--a
combination of prescriptions, vitamins and carefully researched
now it's two years later--a milestone.
breast cancer is over 50% fatal within five years, and almost always
fatal within ten years.
is why I've become an IBC research advocate. I want to help find
a cause for this disease so that my daughter and your daughters,
sisters, mothers, wives don't have to go through this. This year,
I'm making donations to the
IBC Research Foundation http://www.ibcresearch.org/donations/
in honor of loved ones for Christmas presents.
long as I am doing well, I must try and make a difference. So, to
celebrate, I went to the grocery store and bought myself a cake.
I had them write "Congratulations Debbie!" on it and I took it to
the Buddy Kemp Caring House. There, I threw a party for myself at
my breast cancer support group meeting.
years out from diagnosis, I am healthy. My children are growing.
My family, especially my husband and my mother, have helped me so
much. I am so lucky. God has blessed me tremendously. I've met some
incredibly courageous people and said goodbye to others. I continue
to draw on the support of my family, church, friends, and email
buddies. I thank God for each new day.
you are looking for a holiday gift for someone who already has everything,
consider a donation to the IBC Research Foundation. May you have
a wonderful holiday and thanks so much for your ongoing support.