Deb is a cancer survivor not once but twice. She considers herself "blessed" for having caught her cancer twice in the early stages, snuffing it out and allowing her to live her life to the fullest.
Taking part in the Relay for Life - especially the survivor's lap - is an experience filled with emotion.
"When I look around and see everyone (in the survivor lap)...we're all family and have so many things in common as we are going through our journeys. And then we stop and think about our friends that are not with us any longer. It makes me feel so blessed. Relay to Life is very dear to my heart."
Deb, who has worked for 14 years at Trimark, has taken time from her busy schedule for the past many years to have her annual female exams.
It was August of 2008 during her mammogram that a very small lump was detected. To make sure, an additional mammogram was taken as was an ultrasound.
A stereotactic biopsy, performed in a mobile unit which makes regular visits to BVRMC, confirmed the results. She received a call from Dr. Ingrid Franze, radiologist, to come to her office and knew by the look on her face what she had to tell her wasn't good.
Though caught in the early stages, Dr. Franze felt it was important to move quickly on the treatment plan. Dr. Jason Dierking was brought on board as her surgeon. A lumpectomy was performed and he was pleased to discover that the cancer had not spread into the lymph nodes.
He shared options with her but she was most interested in the MammoSite (or breast brachytherapy) - one of the most advanced treatment options which he had discovered prior to coming to Storm Lake.
He set her up with the John Stoddard Cancer Center in Des Moines. The treatment was new to them, too, infact, Deb was the first to go through such a treatment there. It was highly effective and more and more women are opting for the treatment.
A great deal of data has been recorded on Deb's case - only to make things better for those after her. She feels good about that; she has visited with many women who have been diagnosed and has helped steer them towards the treatment.
Rather than going through weeks and weeks of treatments, the MammoSite is a five-day radiation treatment, performed twice a day, lasting six-eight minutes.
She was fortunate - not everyone meets the criteria needed to use that form of treatment.
She was not sick and she did not lose her hair, which she is thankful for.
Then in January of 2011, following a routine pelvic exam, she was diagnosed with endometrical neoplasia (cancer in the lining of the uterus.) Because of her cancer history, additional precautions were taken. The polyp was removed and 14 lymph nodes were harvested - all of them were clear meaning the cancer had not spread. Again, she is sincerely thankful to Dr. Dierking for his expertise. She did not have to go through any treatment for the cancer.
"The cancer cells were at the lowest of stages and they are quite sure the polyps confined the cells. I am very blessed - again."
She shared that hearing cancer for the second time did not seem as big of a blow as the first time.
"I didn't like hearing it but I am glad we caught it very, very early. Having been through it before, and knowing 'my team' (of professionals) was here was tremendous. We've got great people here that can take you on your 'journey'.
She cannot stress enough to readers the importance of preventative measures.
"You've got to take care of yourself," she said.
She has had the opportunity to visit with others diagnosed with cancer, serving as a supporter and lending a shoulder to cry on; anytime she can help she does.
"We're all like family," she said.
And speaking of family, she and husband Mark are pleased to share that their son Brian will be getting married this fall; she is so thankful to be here to share his special day.
In addition to her participation in Relay for Life, Deb helps in the planning of the Buena Vista Regional Medical Center's annual 5K walk and run cancer A.W.A.R.E.ness event. Money raised as this event is used to assist those in treatment for cancer. This year's run/walk is set for Oct. 6.