Debbie Carter ~ Blessed
Life was pretty normal for Debbie as she went about her every day activities. Get up, go to work, do life with family and enjoy each day.
She shared that "my dad taught her to drive a semi", and she loved it.
As a result of her love, she decided to make a career of driving a tractor trailer over the road.
Her first loads were out pulling what is called “doubles.” (2 trailers). “You could meet all types of people and no 2 days were the same.” Debbie was driving in a time when woman drivers were uncommon.
The challenges she faced were interesting. The day to day work could be very rewarding and she met a lot of people on the road. Her routes took her throughout the Midwest.
Her world was first rocked for the first time when a mammogram in 2010 showed she had breast cancer. It took two surgeries to remove the all her cancer. She did radiation after. The doctor said they got it all.
Six weeks later she was back on the road doing what she enjoyed. All was normal. So she would think.
While back out on the road, her world was rocked by Meniere’s disease, a disorder that effects the inner ear and causes episodes of extreme dizziness. She had to pull off the side of the road and wait for someone to come and get her.
This diagnosis and it's side effects forced her to have to retire early. She still has fond memories of her days in the cab of semi-truck.
As she sat with me sharing her cancer journey, she made the comment, "you can see all kinds of things when you're out on the road in the cab of the truck." She chuckled and said, "some of the stories are quite funny and a few could be very embarrassing." "Being out on the road isn't for everyone, it's hard work and it you don't enjoy it you won't make it."
In 2013, as she was settling into retirement, a second cancer was found. It was on her arm. This time it was melanoma that reared it’s ugly head. The doctor felt it wasn't advanced and could be taken care of with surgery.
Once again the world she had become accustom to was changed in a moment.
All in the instant of one diagnosis.
Debbie was thankful they caught it early. Surgery to remove the cancer was successful and no more surgery or treatment was needed.
And back to retirement she went.
Three years later, in January 2016, cancer raised it’s ugly head again. It was leukemia. The doctor said, “let’s watch it”. For the first year they watched. Her white blood count stayed stable. Then, as if overnight, it took off like a wildfire.
And within a year, she added lymphoma to her resume of cancers. Chemo began, thinking she would be brave, she decided to have a regular IV, but she quickly decided she’d have a port put in. The pain was a little too much.
She was concerned about being sick, loss of hair, and with a defibrillator they had to take it slow. They planned to do six treatments of chemo, they eventually did nine.
Her hair stayed, her nausea was less than expected, but the steroids caused her gain 36 pounds. “What a bummer!” She said. Then, “the treatments wore me out.”
Her last chemo was the past of April. Then the wait. And the praying. A new lump in her breast this past week, and the praying is increased.
Debbie knows the reality, that once you have cancer, the thought never leaves you when you have more issues. Her faith never leaves as well. “If I get up in the morning, I say, thank you Lord for another day.”
All the time Debbie has been in the fight she knew God was on her side. “You’ve gotta keep up a good attitude,” she said, “and I know it’s a win-win. I either get better and see my family grow, or he will take me to paradise.”
Gilead has been walking with Debbie during her leukemia fight. Knowing that someone praying and thinking of her really encourages her heart.
“I love the cards, they have been a big blessing in my life. If I need to talk to someone they given me their number you so I can call, they are there for me, not just for me anyone me for anyone with cancer.”
Debbie recieves phone calls regularly from an encourager. When the encourager doesn't connect with her they leave a message letting her know that someone is thinking of her and praying for her.
She is really encouraged by the phone calls and cards, she also likes the reminder texts that Gilead sends to her from time to time.
Last year Debbie served on the Cruisin' To Care car show that is held each May as a fundraiser for Gilead Ministries. She came back again this year for the 2019 show, her husband Steve joined her. Their commitment to the show and the hard work they did to make the day successful was evident in all they did.
Debbie 1967 VW Beetle was featured on the front of the Cruisin' To Care T-Shirt this year. during the day of the show she spoke with Randall King from IWU's television show "Crossroads." The episode with her interview will be live on this weeks show.
Gilead really appreciates when a patient can join the team as a volunteer and pour their efforts into encouraging other cancer and long term illness patients.
This Debbie holds to the words of David, “your rod and your staff, they protect and comfort me.” (Psalms 23:4b NLT)