‘A bee saved my life’

Hood River woman shares her inspiring cancer journey during breast cancer awareness month

BY CHRISTINA VANDERWERF

For the Hood River News

Debbie Clark is allergic to bees. And yet she credits a bee with saving her life.

At 53, Debbie is a busy woman; a mother of five, caring for her husband and working full-time at the Hood River Safeway. Like many of us, she doesn’t take time to go to the doctor. But then, a bee sting set off warning signs that prompted her to get a mammogram.

Go back to September 2011. Debbie’s outside enjoying the vibrant yellows, reds and oranges of fall foliage in the Gorge. Then she gets stung. Allergic to bees, she doesn’t think much about the significant swelling and irritation in her arm. But then the pain moves into her breast.

“The bee saved my life,” Debbie said. “Once I felt that pain, I gave myself a complete breast exam, and that’s when I found the lump. Even then, I didn’t think anything of it.”

Like many people who find a lump, she told herself she would watch it, and she did — for three more months. “At that point, I knew it was something bad and then I told myself ‘I’m not ruining anyone’s Christmas.’”

Fast forward to the holidays: Debbie makes a New Year’s resolution to get a physical, including a mammogram. “I didn’t realize how long it had been since I’d had one, because I was busy taking care of everybody else,” she says. “After the tests, my fears were confirmed. I had cancer. I’ll never forget that day — it was Friday the 13th.”

Within a month, she is having a mastectomy at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital to remove the tumor and affected lymph nodes. Following her surgery, she begins chemotherapy treatments at the hospital.

Recognizing that October is breast cancer awareness month, Debbie knows the value of having cancer services nearby; from imaging and surgery to infusion therapy. “I’m a small-town girl and they kept my care close to home,” she says.

Debbie begins radiation next month and will continue with physical therapy in Hood River. She plans to be back at work by January.

“This cancer has brought so many blessings into my life,” she says. “Does cancer stink? Of course, but the people I have met along my journey have been angels.”

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For more information, visit www.provi-dence.org/hoodriver.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



Comments

imdeanna says...

Debbie's positive attitude is such an inspiration! Way to kick Cancers butt!!!!

Posted 3 November 2012, 6:04 p.m. Suggest removal

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