My name is Deborah
Every time I see a post or hear a woman exclaim “I’m cured ” when they are ringing the chemo bell or they have finished treatment my heart aches a little. Don’t get me wrong - I perfectly understand the sheer relief of getting through the ordeal, the hope that getting through chemo means you’ve crossed the finish line and it’s over. It’s understandable. It just takes me back to time in my own journey when I was going through treatment for breast cancer when I thought I would get through treatment, cross the finish line and it would be over and I could put it in the rear view mirror and get back to my regular life. It makes me think of the saying “you don’t know what you don’t know”.
I’ve been in the medical profession as an ICU nurse so when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 I felt comfortable turning to the medical world and thought I knew how to navigate it. At the time, not knowing better, I relied somewhat exclusively on my doctors and planned to follow the path of bilateral mastectomy with implants.
My treatment and recovery was not straightforward. The physical and emotional response was devastating. In the course of 3 years I had 8 surgeries, failed implants, multiple secondary health problems, and ultimately a near physical and emotional collapse.
During this time I saw multiple specialists who all looked at symptoms and wrote multiple prescriptions. The problem was I wasn’t getting better. It was only when I found a functional medicine practitioner and started learning about and working on key health principles - sleep, stress, toxins and especially hormonal issues that I started to notice a difference. What I learned is these are key issues for anyone’s health but are amplified for breast cancer survivors.
After my personal experience I felt like this information needed to get out to women facing breast cancer in a bigger way so I started formally studying functional medicine. That in additionI to my nursing degrees and clinical experience I felt would give me a good foundation to work with clients and help them understand and navigate their journey.
I have found that recovery involves recovery from breast cancer and breast cancer treatment. The many treatments we endure create health problems in their own right. Nutritional imbalances, thyroid issues, food sensitivities, poor sleep, brain fog and chronic exhaustion are just a few of the common health issues that persist after active treatment. Questions about long term hormonal balances are common and often not well addressed by traditional medical doctors.
What I have learned for myself and what I have learned from my clients is that breast cancer, particularly hormone mediated cancers, is a healing journey that doesn’t end when you ring the bell or receive your last radiation treatment. That is only one phase. I am committed to using my experience and training to help women navigate this journey with the most education and information they can get to understand this disease, resolve symptoms and live their most vibrant and active lives.
I completed my Master of Science in Nursing and integrative health from Dominican University. I have completed extensive training in mind-body medicine through the Center for Mind Body Medicine and completed certification in functional medicine through the School of Applied Functional Medicine.