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Deb, Breast Cancer Survivor

Life is Sweet: A Breast Cancer Survivor Story

Deb Keenan's breast cancer journey began 10 years ago when her doctor sent her for a routine mammogram. The test showed calcium deposits in both breasts, a condition which is not uncommon, but concerned her doctor enough to send her for a biopsy. The biopsy turned up cancer cells in her right breast, but since the mammogram had detected the cancer at such an early stage, Deb was able to have it removed with a lumpectomy and external radiation. Deb found herself requiring more treatment less than a year later when test results showed more cancer cells in her right breast. It was then that Deb underwent a full mastectomy with reconstruction.

Deb has always been vigilant about following up with her doctors to make sure that her cancer remains in remission; however, last year she discovered a lump under her arm near her reconstructed right breast. "I kept hoping it would go away, but with my history I knew better," Deb says. "My doctor got me in to see a radiologist that very day and made me an appointment with my surgeon, Dr. Sabine Manoli." Working with oncologist, Dr. Douglas Tisdale from St. Joseph Hospital's Cancer Center, Deb was treated with radiation and heavy-duty chemo that was designed to keep her particularly aggressive form of breast cancer at bay. 

Deb has trusted St. Joseph Hospital to guide her through her cancer diagnosis and treatment for over 10 years and says that she would never dream of going anywhere else. "They're like family to me," she says. "On the day of my last treatment, I found myself really sad that I wouldn't see them anymore; that's how special they are!" 

These days Deb says she feels great, and though all cancer patients live with the nagging worry of a recurrence, she feels strong and has tried to take her illness as incentive to live her life to the fullest and pursue hobbies that she's always wanted to try, including beekeeping. "A cancer survivor lives with uncertainty every day, but I know that if anything happens I've got my team at St. Joseph Hospital to get me through it. That gives me a lot of comfort and hope."