“I’m a… breast cancer survivor…” – Debra’s story
DPI, Guyana, Monday, October 16, 2017
January 2015 was a year of reckoning for fifty-six (56) year old, Debra Lowe. Both herself and husband were diagnosed with cancer. For her part, it was cancer of the breast while her husband faced his battle with lung cancer.
“I am a cancer survivor, breast cancer survivor. I consider my experience being a bittersweet one because I have seen both sides of the coin, myself and husband was diagnosed in 2015 with cancer,” Debra openly related.
Life before her diagnosis was one of bliss and anticipation of growing old together with her husband. With the majority of her family residing abroad and her two adult sons on their own, Debra’s attachment to her spouse was more acute. Unfortunately, in November of that same year, he succumbed, leaving her bereft of her only apparent source of support.
Unsure of what lay ahead, Debra realised the fight could prove to be a challenging one. Additionally, she had no prior knowledge of the survival rate of breast cancer patients and resolved to die.
“I never really got the opportunity to know somebody that had breast cancer and what I know about cancer is that when you get it, you die.”
However, the doctors gave assurances of her chances of survival. “When I went to the clinic and the doctor diagnosed what is it and that I could survive and what I would have to do, I started to accept it” Debra explained.
The treatment regimen involved an urgent mastectomy and then undergoing chemotherapy.
Debra recollected her road to recovery was due in large part to the tremendous support from close family members who had returned to Guyana. This support was credited with making the treatment and recovery process, less distressing.
She also noted it took a while for her relatives to accept her diagnosis, particularly since there was no history of the disease in the family.
“Everybody was surprised because the first thing they say is, a small person like you, how come you get breast cancer. But people were very supportive, all my family and my husband’s family. Everybody is abroad but for my surgery, all my sisters were here.”
Debra also recognised the ‘Giving Hope’ Foundation which has been providing vital counselling for her, especially after losing her life companion.
Apart from losing a breast, life has not changed that much. Debra still mourns her husband’s passing but finds solace in her seven-year-old grandson who keeps her active.
Encouraging other women to speak out against breast cancer, Debra said: “it doesn’t make sense that you keep it in, saying you don’t want anybody to know, it’s not a sin, we didn’t call this upon ourselves.”
Women are once more being encouraged to know their status, as the world over is observing Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
By: Delicia Haynes