Life was pretty normal for Debbie as she went about her everyday activities. Get up, go to work, do life with family, and enjoy each day.
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 all her cancer. She did radiation after. The doctor said they got it all.
Six weeks later, she was back to work doing what she enjoyed. All was normal. So she would think.
While back at work, she experienced some dizziness, which was later diagnosed as Meniere’s disease, a disorder which affects the inner ear.
Since her full-time job was driving a semi, the disease's presence forced her to have to retire early.
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 its ugly head. The doctor felt it wasn't advanced and could be taken care of with surgery.
Once again, the world she had become accustomed to was changed in a moment. After Surgery to remove the cancer, no further surgery or treatment was needed.
And back to retirement, she went.
Three years later, in January 2016, cancer made an unwelcome appearance again. This time it was leukemia. The doctor said, “let’s watch it.” 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.
The initial plan of six treatments of chemo eventually became nine. “...the treatments wore me out,” she explained.
Debbie knows the reality that once you have cancer, the thought never leaves you that you may have to face it again.
This last battle was one of the most difficult, and compared to cancer, has required endurance and faith to get through.
Despite getting her vaccination, COVID would come for a visit, and boy, was it a visit indeed.
Feeling poorly in mid-April. Debbie's health declined, and it left her oxygen saturation at dangerously low levels, and a trip to the Emergency Room became necessary.
After several ER visits and hospital stays, Debbie ended up at Lutheran Hospital in Ft Wayne, Indiana, where she spent 26 days.
While we were talking about her battle with the virus, she confessed, "I didn't know if I was going to make it or not."
After she was healthy enough to send home, she found that her body had been through quite a bit, and it was going to be work to restore her strength. Home-based physical therapy visited her and helped start a regimen for her to move towards the recovery of the muscle losses sustained during her hospital stay.
She has slowly regained some of her stamina, but it has been slow coming.
Her husband, Steve, has made their house and property more accessible to her as she regains muscle strength. "Being in a hospital bed for 3+ weeks really causes your muscles to get weak", Deb says. "Steve has a garden tractor parked next to the porch for me. I can ride around our property." It's a great way to "get out" when your immune system has been weakened significantly by her cancer treatment. You can't be around other people. This allows me to get out and see the outside, enjoy the weather, and kiss my horse(s)."
One thought has been at the front of her recovery, the impact of her sickness on her family and her concern that her death would have kept her from seeing them place faith in Christ.
Debbie's thankful for, as she calls it, "a second chance," to be a witness to her family that they can also place their lives in Jesus' hands and experience salvation. "I was concerned that if I die, I might not see my family again in heaven." That burden has been part of her praise to God for allowing her another chance to share her faith with them.
While sharing lunch with Deb and her husband last week, she had her typical smile and bubbly attitude. The days are hard, but she asks for your prayers to get back to where she was pre-COVID. She asks that we pray for her family to trust Christ. For her to be a light to them through this battle back from COVID.
"Every day, I thank God for another blessing and beautiful day."
Debbie has been such a blessing, as a patient she's always a joy to call. As a volunteer she's always willing to do whatever, despite her physical limitations. As a friend of the car show committee members, she is a valued and loved addition.
We are thankful for the grace God has given Debbie during this very trial-filled year. And we are looking forward to her ongoing recovery and the time when she will be able to return to us as a volunteer.
This time of sickness has made Debbie hold to the words of David, “your rod and your staff, they protect and comfort me.” (Psalms 23:4b NLT)