I'm Debbie, a six year breast cancer survivor.
I had my second mammogram at 41.
They asked me to return saying it looked "suspicious."
My mom was with me. She held my hand and tears streamed down our faces while the radiation oncologist told us she was sure of what she was seeing.
Three biopsies later, I was scheduled for a bilateral mastectomy. Both breasts. The breasts I fed my babies with. Just like that...gone. With three tumors ranging from .6cm to 4.6cm, frankly, I was glad to be rid of them. To rid my body of the "bad guys" as my kids called the tumors.
Chemo was next. With five lymph nodes testing positive for cancer, I was ready for my oncologist to hit me with everything he had. I wasn't giving up without a fight. Even after I had an allergic reaction to the second round of chemo, against the advice of my oncologist, I refused to give up.
With radiation, I blistered and bled. Had to work from home for a few weeks because I couldn't wear anything but a loose t-shirt.
Almost two years from diagnosis, I was blessed to receive an amazing, state-of-the-art breast reconstruction by my "artist," Plastic Surgeon (Kevin Beshlian and his team at Virginia Mason in Seattle).
Except for the hot flashes, followed by chemo-induced menopause, and taking Arimidex for the next five years, it's over.
And now, I'm paying it forward. To thank all the wonderful people who were there for me. For the meals, the gifts, the positive thoughts, the phone calls, and the encouragement. For the co-workers I barely knew who donated vacation hours and meals. For my sisters-in-laws who sent delicious baked goods and cleaning services. For the doctors who made me well. For all the kindness and generosity I was blessed with. It's payback time.
Everywhere you look, people are raising money for breast cancer research and awareness. Really? Breast cancer and pink ribbons everywhere!
I want to help people in a way that's not available elsewhere. To be a friend to those who need one. If I could gather up all the young women facing breast cancer who have no one to lean, on and be their friend, buy their groceries, cook their meals, clean their houses and care for their children, I would.
This is the next best thing.
My deepest thanks to you for being a part of my mission.