October 2002, I survived a lumpectomy, 4 series of chemotherapy and 5 1/2 weeks of radiation (everyday). May 2005, I experienced recurring breast cancer, but fortunately
had educated myself and when I was told that I would have to go through treatment again that was when I put my foot down and told the doctor to remove my breasts stating that I am going to kill them first before they kill me.
On May 9, 2005, I underwent a bilateral mastectomy and a latissimus dorsi flap (left side) — moves muscle and skin from your back when extra tissue is needed. The flap is made up of skin, fat, muscle and blood vessels. It is tunneled under the skin to the front of the chest. This creates a pocket for an implant.
December 2006 was when I underwent a latissimus dorsi flap for the right side. I have had over 10 major surgeries since October 2002 (actually I lost count), with the next surgery–breast reconstructive plastic surgery–scheduled for May 1, 2007 at 3:00 PM at Huntington Memorial Hospital. A few months later, after being examined by Dr. Leif Rogers, he stated “Debbie, I will see in one year.” I was shocked and excited asking the doctor to repeat what he just said. Again, he stated, “Debbie I will see you in one year.” I became very emotional and started to cry, because it was finally over. When I actually reached my vehicle, I was so happy that I started to jump up with excitement.
I never lost faith and was determined to kill the cancer before it killed me. I have many scars on my back and on my chest, but I am not embarrassed of them. I am grateful to be alive, and do not look or feel deformed in any way. You would never know that I had a bilateral mastectomy or missing both my latissimus muscles unless I told you. I owe my life to Dr. Lauren Kim (Primary Medical Doctor), Dr. James Recabaren (Cancer Surgeon-USC), and, more importantly, to Dr. Brian Cox and Dr. Leif Rogers for giving me back the beauty and the confidence of being a woman. I no longer live in fear and I am sohappy to be alive. I truly feel like a beautiful woman thanks to Dr. Brian Cox and Dr. Leif Rogers (Plastic Surgeons).