October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. With 1 in every 8 women in this country being diagnosed with breast cancer, it is something that has affected many moms, daughters, grandmothers, wives, and friends. On this Mom Monday, we catch up with Debbie, a two year breast cancer survivor and mom to Kolcraft’s Marketing Assistant, Kim.
During your chemotherapy and radiation treatments, you always maintained such a positive attitude. How were you able to stay so positive?
I think that positive thinking is powerful. I knew that negativity wouldn’t be helpful, so I focused on the future. I thought about being able to be there when my daughters get married and having the chance to meet my grandchildren some day. Although I was tired, I stayed busy with reading, completing craft projects, and continuing my PhD studies.
You even held onto a few strands of hair, calling them your “survivors.”
Each person needs to fight their battle in their own way. Some women shave their heads to give themselves a feeling of control over the hair loss. It empowers them. I chose to let it happen naturally and the remaining strands were a symbol of my power and strength. I would survive, just as they did. What’s important is for friends and family to support the choices that the person makes in the fight.
Not only did you have support from your friends and family, but from your students as well.
Yes, one daughter bought me a chemo bear and the other did the Komen Walk right after my diagnosis. One day, I arrived in class to find all of my students dressed in pink. Several of them also participated in the Pink Glove Dance at my university.
In 2010, you walked in a breast cancer survivor’s fashion show for the Pink Ribbon Connection and Nordstrom. What was that experience like?
The timing was perfect since I had just finished my year-long treatment. I really wanted to rock it on the runway so I smiled and strutted my stuff. I was inspired by my fellow survivor models who were several years out from treatment and still doing well. It gave me hope.
And now for a glimpse into Debbie’s life:
What book is currently by your bedside?
Researching Lived Experience by Max van Manen. I am doing qualitative research of lived experiences for my dissertation.
What is your favorite holiday?
Christmas. It’s a joyful time of year. Thanksgiving is a close second because I am very thankful for all I have and I really like getting up early and shopping the next day.
If you had a free day with no commitments or obligations, what would you do with it?
Exercise with my golden retriever, go shopping, create some handmade cards, have dinner with my husband, and talk to my daughters.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Chocolate and People magazine.
What is an instant de-stressor for you?
Watching a funny movie or using the wii fit for exercise. I like seeing the mii characters of my family exercising with me – it’s funny to watch them. If I can’t do that, then I use visualization, deep breathing.
The best thing about being a Mom is…
the pride and joy I feel when I see the wonderful young women my daughters have grown to be. Every tiring moment of motherhood in those early days was totally worth it.
Being a Mom now is…
probably easier than it was for my mother. Technology allows me to stay very connected to my daughters through texting, e-mail, and phone chats no matter where I am or what I am doing. My Mom had to wait for me to be home to talk on a land line.