Breast cancer suvivor stories: Debra Triplett

Thursday, October 11, 2012
Debra Triplett (Laura Simon)

Age diagnosed: I was diagnosed in December 2011 at age 55. I have previously gone through lumpectomies and one lymph node. I began chemo treatment in February and went through eight treatments then, followed by 30 radiation treatments five times a week for six weeks. I had my surgeries at Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis, but with the distance I chose Southeast Cancer Center for my treatment. They were wonderful and very family-oriented. I have a breast cancer called triple negative that can go off to other areas of the body, so it has to be watched closely.

The hardest part: I think hardest part of diagnosis is thinking, 'Will they get rid of it, or am I going to die and not get to see my children and grandchildren grow up, watch them graduate or walk down the aisle to be married?' But I chose to think positive and live one day at a time and live it to the fullest. I thought losing my hair would be so hard, but I had my children and grandbabies cut it off; I ended up with a mohawk and it was so fun. I stayed positive through the whole treatment. I missed very few days at work and they kept me going. I have a wonderful family, co-workers and church family to get me through it. I always would say there is someone else worse than me and I kept on pushing.

I have to say my treatment wasn't near as hard as I thought. I wasn't sick a lot, just mainly tired. The radiation -- driving to work at Poplar Bluff every morning, then I would leave at noon and drive to Cape for treatment daily -- was probably the worst. Anytime you hear the big 'C word' it is devastating, but you choose to make the best of everything and that's what I did. I feel great since everything is over and still live one day at a time, because we are not promised a tomorrow. So love your family and friends as if it was your last.

Advice for others: The best advice I could give to other women is to have your female checkups annually, and if you aren't comfortable with a decision, go to someone else to make sure. Stay positive, because that makes all the difference in the world. We don't choose the disease, but we choose how to handle it when we are diagnosed.