Deb’s Story: Finding a New Normal, Again


Deb is a wife, mother, grandmother and caregiving. Here is her survivor story:


In May of 2009, I was experiencing one of the happiest, healthiest time periods of my life. My husband and I were getting used to our children being young adults, and grandchildren were showing up faster than we could ever have imagined. We worked hard, to be able to travel and spend time with our family and friends on the weekends. Life was good.

When I found the small lump in my breast, my life, as I knew it, changed. Medical tests proved that little lump had already spread cells to my liver and bone. Daily medications, several surgeries, radiation, and the start of “forever being on some kind of treatment” began. I tried to absorb all I could about metastatic breast cancer (mets). With the help of my very capable team of physicians and nurses, I tried to make the right decisions for me. Gradually, I found a new normal, and started to relax a little.

I continued to have a good quality of life. Then the unthinkable happened. My husband was diagnosed with leukemia. My husband lived with courage and strength through a year of chemotherapy and subsequent bone marrow transplant. On September 6th, 2012, my dear sweet best friend, greatest supporter, and love, died. Once again, my life forever changed.

To this day, I continue to work on finding a new normal. This one is more difficult. It’s definitely a lonelier normal. I have bad days, but I am gradually starting to have better days. I have a wonderful, loving family, and group of friends who love and support me. I know I am fortunate to be doing fairly well more than four years after diagnosis.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of knowing many wonderful, strong women living with mets. Even though we might have the same diagnosis, how our bodies react to the cancer and our response to each treatment can be very different. While I don’t believe I will be healed because of a positive attitude, I do believe it makes my days better. I have learned that finding reasons to laugh and spending time with people I love, as well counting my blessings, increases my quality of life.

I am a nurse and was born to be a caregiver to others. Living with my diagnosis, and being at my husband’s side through his, has made me even more confident in my belief that each person is his or her own best advocate when it comes to healthcare.

I hope that there will be many treatments available to keep me alive until there is a cure. The reality is, that probably will not happen. But while I can, I will continue to learn all I can about metastatic breast cancer. I will continue to advocate for myself and others living with this disease.

I’m not living the life I imagined. I am not living the life that I would have chosen. But, as changes happen, and they always do, I am blessed, and I am living the life I have been given.

© 2013 Cumberland Valley Breast  Care Alliance, Chambersburg, PA 17201