When she's not reading the latest Stephen King novel, Debbie Savage is busy personifying her last name. Only a savage could beat breast cancer, not once, but twice. There's a reason we named her our May Survivor.
Debbie's journey began back in 2012 when she was diagnosed with triple-negative stage 2 breast cancer.
"Upon receiving the diagnosis, we were thrilled, the only thing we heard was negative, how bad could that be," she recalled. "We were unaware that triple-negative is the worst type to have."
What did Debbie mean by this? Well, the three negatives of triple-negative breast cancer represent the receptors estrogen, progesterone, and the HER-2/neu gene. These receptors are the most common types of receptors known to stimulate most breast cancer growth. With triple-negative breast cancer, all three are not present (hence the negative) and while that sounds like a really good thing, it can actually make treating the cancer more difficult. See, some treatment options, like hormone therapy for example, depend upon these receptors, and are unsuccessful without them.
Regardless, Debbie was not to be stopped. She continued to live her life, vacation, and enjoy as much as she could while undergoing the best treatment for her diagnosis, which was chemotherapy.
During a trip to Costa Rica, the effects of chemo really began to take form but she still kept her spirits up.
"It was during this trip that I started to lose my hair, having a hairstylist as a sister paid off, with my little fold-up scissors, she cut my hair as short as she could outside my room on the balcony, little did we realize that the balcony below was out farther than ours," she laughed. "My hair ended up on the balcony below."
As Debbie battled her way through, she came out on the other side with cancer-free screenings for five years.
Unfortunately, the cancer returned, and she also learned to trust her own instincts.
"My doctor could not find the right words to tell me," she recalled. "You see, I had asked for a mastectomy five years earlier, he told me I was being extreme."
Now, five years later, she was faced with just that, needing a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, but with added challenges due to what her body had been through with chemo and other treatments during her first bout with the illness. Yet even so, she remained positive and embraced that this was a new diagnosis, invasive ductal carcinoma, the most common form of breast cancer, and not exactly what she experienced the first time.
As she had before, Debbie stayed savage and beat breast cancer yet again. And like Debbie, her sister is also a survivor, which definitely helped her navigate her own journey.
"Knowing what she encountered, that she made it through, gave me the strength and positive attitude I maintained through the diagnosis and treatment."
She's also grateful for the rest of her support system and her own strength.
"My positive attitude, love, and the positive thinking of my family and friends helped me overcome the challenges!"
We're so thrilled to have such a SAVAGE as part of our EOTS family!
Warm wishes to all our moms out there as we celebrate Mother's Day, and also our December Survivor Veronica Adams-Grimsley and our pink-partner Angelina Killane-Sims of AAngelsNJ who both celebrate birthdays this month!
Until next time, keep up with us on Instagram - keep safe and healthy - and always, keep your Eye on Strength!