Photo caption: Always laughing and always fun, Debbie Kester gives out candy at the local trunk-or-treat every year for the Oakland Christian Church.
As you probably are aware, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and here in Pott. County, it isn’t just an excuse for athletes to wear pink, it’s a solid reminder to get those check-ups you’ve been avoiding.
Debbie Kester, of Oakland, is one of those advocating for you to make that appointment. Debbie is currently fighting breast cancer. She will be spending her month of October taking radiation treatments after undergoing surgery this past summer.
Her story, luckily, is one of hope and happiness!
If you don’t know Debbie, she is one of the unsung heroes of Oakland and the Riverside area. She spent over 30 years in the Oakland/Riverside School District serving meals to kids, volunteering endlessly at the Oakland Christian Church, and is currently running the senior center in Oakland.
Debbie has never met a stranger! She is chatty, outgoing, friendly, great with kids (especially the really naughty ones), a hard worker, and is always positive, even in the face of cancer.
With all the research and development, Debbie tells me she has a 97% survival rate. She also told me that she considers herself one of the blessed ones because her cancer was caught at Stage 1. Truth be told, she told me it was a complete act of God.
Just like all of us, Debbie forgets to take the time to take care of herself and hadn’t had a recent mammogram. In fact, she says she’s sure they wouldn’t have caught it at all if it wasn’t for a series of fortunate events.
Debbie was planning to have knee surgery. She’d never had surgery but went in for her pre-op physical with Janice at CHI in Oakland. Janice mentioned the mammogram and said that Medicare would want her to have one. Debbie wasn’t really interested, but Janice persisted saying she was retiring and they should just get it done. Debbie caved and had it done. Within a matter of a week, she knew it was cancer and they were setting up her surgery. If that wasn’t shocking enough, Debbie’s surgeon told her that whoever read her mammogram results at Mercy must have been one impressive and thorough person to have even caught it because of the minuscule size.
As she begins her treatments, she continues to remain positive. The doctor told her the radiation would make her tired, feel sunburned, and cause her to lose more tissue. Debbie’s excited response, “But I won’t have cancer!” That, my friends, is what makes her special.
In light of all of this, Debbie and Ralph have realized that taking a little more time to do the fun stuff is important. She also credits her extremely amazing support system and how the community has reached out, as well, and she says she will be reminding friends and family to make those appointments! Breast cancer awareness just gained a huge advocate!
So as you look at that endless to-do list, move that call up to the top. We all are better off for it…
And, thank you Debbie Kester, for being a ray of pink sunshine in our fall sky!