Debbie Davis and her husband did not have the typical first wedding anniversary.
“I got married in 1992 and then was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993,” said Debbie. “I had chemo on our first anniversary which was not ideal.”
At the time of her stage one breast cancer diagnosis, Debbie was only 34 years old with no family history of cancer.
“I had no idea what I was up against,” said Debbie. “I was obviously scared to death.”
Debbie turned that fear into motivation and determination. She had her son a year after her diagnosis and never let breast cancer stop her from living her life, even when she was re-diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in 2000.
Debbie’s breast cancer journey has included dozens of visits to the hospital and conversations with doctors.
Her current oncologist, Dr. Ron Bose, is amazed by Debbie’s everyday strength and positive attitude.
“She has been fabulous, she has been a trooper,” said Dr. Bose. “You’d pass her on the street and you’d never realize that she is living with breast cancer.”
Although her attitude and smile don’t show it, Debbie has had her spirit broken before.
“Every time it would come back that would knock me down and I would think oh, here we go again,” said Debbie.
Debbie relies on doctors at Siteman Cancer Center for her care and a never-ending supply of support.
Throughout her treatment Debbie has gone through chemotherapy, radiation and clinical trials, which are when patients take part in a study of a new drug that the FDA has not approved yet.
Clinical trials offer not only a potential cure but the opportunity to help others down the road.
“All of the women that have gone before have contributed an immense amount of information for women that are being diagnosed today,” said Dr. Bose. “The women that have gone before us have really been so generous and so brave to make the way easier for women who are diagnosed now.”
Clinical trials have become more popular in the world of breast cancer treatment in recent years. They also bring a hopeful look for the future.
“Breast cancer mortality has been coming down since 1991,” said Dr. Bose. “It has decreased from 25 to 30 percent compared with 1991 and those advances are possible because women have stepped up for clinical trials because they asked, ‘how can we do better’.”
Debbie also thanks Komen Missouri for everything they have brought her.
“Komen is my love, it is just a great organization and is such a camaraderie for survivors,” said Debbie.
Debbie has been involved with Komen Missouri since the Race for the Cure first came to St. Louis in 1998. A good friend of Debbie’s chaired the first race. After volunteering with Komen for many years, she accepted a full-time position as an accountant.
The family atmosphere of Komen events is one of Debbie’s favorite aspects of the organization.
“There’s nothing like it,” said Debbie. “It is a sisterhood that you don’t ask to be in but once you’re in it and you meet another survivor, there is a bond there. And you automatically know that person and what they’ve been through and that is a good feeling.”