If you Google ovarian cancer you will be drawn to a multitude of websites with all the medical terminology you can handle and maybe even understand. Cancer has become too common a diagnosis striking women, men and children, of any age. Cancer is an equal opportunity disease with no boundaries.
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and I would like to introduce you to my friend Debby Mitchell, who defied ovarian for 10 years by Fighting, Living, Inspiring and Preventing (FLIP) this cancer from ruling her life!
A little over 10 years ago, Debby Mitchell, healthy late 40’s active individual was told she had ovarian cancer. From that day forward Debby had to make all those decisions about surgery, chemotherapy, work, play, love, and life in general. Throughout the next 10 years Debby would embark on a journey to fight ovarian cancer.
Debby fought her cancer through every available chemo drug offered her, knowing full well there many side effects that could attack her good cells along with the bad. Debby said of all the side effects, losing her hair, was the most devastating because it was a visible sign that she had cancer. Debby wanted to continue to look normal so people would be at ease with her and not feel sorry for her. But what helped her the most was her husband, Terry, who throughout these 10 years would encourage, lift her up and make her want to fight to live each day.
I often asked Debby how I should act around her, what words to say that would comfort her. Debby would always tell me not to feel sorry for her unless she called me to join her pity party. Then we would cry, get angry, and laugh.
The most humbling experience for me throughout Debby’s journey was going to the women’s cancer center and witnessing women of all ages receiving chemo for ovarian and breast cancer. I will never forget those visits with Debby. How brave she was knowing exactly what was being injected into her body. After almost every chemo treatment, Debby and I would have lunch and she would return to work to continue this new normal in her life.
Debby wanted to keep cancer as a side event in her life. What kept her going was planning special events in her life sometimes almost a year or longer. She loved visiting her family out west and going on vacations with her husband Terry. She scheduled her travel around various treatments so she could enjoy her time with family and friends to its fullest.
When Debby told me she had only weeks to months to live, I again asked Debby what she wanted and again and she said I want to continue to fight this cancer. She planned her trip to Myrtle Beach and started plans to celebrate Christmas with her family and friends.
Debby Mitchell passed away a week before Christmas 2014. She was surrounded by family, especially a loving husband who cared, loved and devoted these last years to making sure all her wishes came true.
For those of us who believe in God, in Debby’s last breath, you sensed her spirit lifting, her pain no longer visible and finally peace. Debby did Fight this cancer longer than most, she Lived her life to the fullest, she Inspired those around her with courage and strength, and because of her journey family and friends have been encouraged to learn all we can to Prevent this cancer from becoming too common to women.
Debby Mitchell was an Air Force veteran serving 23 years, she was a wife, a step mother, a sister, a daughter and an aunt. Debby was my friend and while I took this journey for the past 10 years with her, I will forever be humbled for her courage and strength fighting ovarian cancer!
For Ovarian Cancer prevention information:
For Ovarian Cancer screening information: