What started as IDC (Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma) in 2011, then turned into CHF (Congestive Heart Failure) in 2013, probably partially caused by chemotherapy along with a genetic pre-disposition. Here we are now in March 2016 and I am newly diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in the left breast and liver (LMBC - liver metastasized breast cancer).

So the focus has shifted yet again, BUT... I continue to THANK YOU for your prayers, love & support. I receive them with open & loving arms. My wish is that I will gain strength from you, will provide helpful information and strength to others & will help to strip away the fears we each experience.

I am strong. I am loved. I am healthy. I WILL SURVIVE!

Have you or your loved one had their annual mammogram? PLEASE, don't put it off. Speaking from experience, I highly recommend monthly self exam as well. And if you are now cancer free of breast cancer, do everything you can to insist that your doctors follow up with an occasional PET Scan and labs for tumor markers.

Contents may be uplifting, sad, funny, scary, downright depressing ~ THAT IS CANCER .... at it's best, at its worst.

PLEASE ~ Feel free to share this blog with anyone who is interested to learn about my journey. While I welcome their support, I hope that by sharing this experience freely to the universe I may help to support others by breaking down some of the barriers and fear associated with breast cancer and the treatment.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Step by Step, Day by Day...

So... it's been over a year since my last chemo (5/17/11), and since my partial mastectomy (really a lumpectomy in my mind, which was 6/24/11). And a year ago today I was over half way through the 33 radiation treatments. So glad that it seems much longer ago now.

But I keep having these situations where a whole new batch of hair follicles seem to come alive and start working. This happened about 6 weeks ago, where I began to feel relieved that the thinning hair and exposed scalp may not be what I had to settle for after chemotherapy. But now again there is another little 1/4 inch bang appearing around my forehead. And this feels really, really good. 

Gotta look for those little bright moments, for sure. That is how we stay strong, put one foot in front of the other, step by step, day by day.

And on and on goes the roller coaster of life!


Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

More Blog Accolades

It appears my Blog has been "found". It is now listed on the resource page of, a site promoting a patented healincomfort shirt, pouch, shower lanyard for post breast cancer and upper-body surgery recovery.

They say, "We came across your site on the Internet and feel that it would fit perfectly into our collection of quality resource links at"

And then I just received an email and call from Sylvia Crawford, who writes a column for the local newspaper, Sonoma Index Tribune, which is all about our small community, Glen Ellen. She heard about the Blog and would like to read it and possibly mention it in one of her columns.

I am truly honored by both acknowledgments, and the previous honor of being chosen as one of the favorite Breast Cancer Blogs of 2012 by Healthline editors. My original intent in writing the Blog was to journal my experience for myself, my family, and anyone else who might find it rewarding to them as they, or a loved one, navigates the journey of breast cancer. And I am pleased that it appears I have been successful. If even one person can grow and heal from what I have already experienced, then I feel greatly rewarded for being open with my experience. And it is interesting to find that I myself go back to look up things I need a bit of a reminder on.  :-)


Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Go Away Cancer; Leave My Friends Alone

I mean it! I'm SHOUTING NOW and angry -- you better listen up here. GO AWAY CANCER ~ LEAVE MY FRIENDS ALONE!!!

Why is it as we age more and more of our friends and loved ones come down with this ailment and that affliction. Is it age, is it the times, what the heck is it all about anyway? 

You see, there is a good friend of mine who I've just reconnected with over the last few months. She is a friend who's kids were near mine in age, they attended Dunbar school together, they took ballet lessons together and played soccer together,  and she and I played soccer together. We even camped together as families. But that was a long time ago. As the kids grew older, we went our separate ways.

Well recently, another friend of ours came down with breast cancer so we reconnected, and all had lunch together here at my place, and planned to do so again real soon. Then the craziness of summer, vacations, and fun days with grand kids, kind of got in the way for a few weeks. So I made contact with the friend with breast cancer and we picked a few days that we could get together. Then I emailed the other friend so we could set a date.

Her reply was shocking, as it always is, when you get the word. It is not her, but her husband who heard the words, "You have cancer", and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just a couple of weeks earlier. When I heard the news, I sat on the stairs and actually sobbed. Mark was out of town, and it just got to me. Sometimes it is just too much and a few tears make you feel better, at least for a moment.

As I know all too well, her life has now been turned upside down and consumed with fear, confusion, doctor appointments, etc. As it was, her husband was scheduled for a 10-12 hour surgery the very next day. This happened to be the same day I spent with my brother in SF at California Pacific Med Center for one of his three days of consult in preparation to get on the heart transplant list. And her husbands surgery was at Kaiser just near CPMC. Much as I had hoped to be able to go there and drop by and give her a hug, it was not to be.

Since then, she has updated me several times. Surgery went well, margins are clear, and he is progressing as well as can be expected but will be in the hospital a bit longer. So now their road of treatment and recovery begins. The "lost year" begins, as Mark so aptly coined it for us.

So when you say your prayers, or make those wishes for those in need, or whatever you do to help out those with illness or less fortunate than yourself, please add my friend to your list. Like all of us, they do not deserve this either. But she is strong, and positive, and is doing what we all try to do in this situation -- put one foot in front of the other, take it day by day, and just try to do what we can to move in a positive and healing direction.

As she said to me in an email today, TGFK (Thank God For Knitting). Those of you who knit or crochet, or do some other form of hand work you can take anywhere, know exactly what she means. 

Hugs to you dear friend. Thinking of you and your family daily.

LIFE IS GOOD (most of the time)

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!


Monday, August 6, 2012

Healthline Names Best Breast Cancer Blogs of 2012

Healthline editors recently published the final list of their favorite Breast Cancer blogs of 2012 and I'm very honored that My Journey Past Breast Cancer made THE LIST.

breast cancer blogs

See what nice things Healthline editors had to say about my Blog:

Debbie Emery knows a few things about life, love, and breast cancer. She knows that life is precious, even if it is scary. She knows that love for family (especially new grandbabies!) is the pinnacle of an individual’s purpose. She knows that breast cancer is a journey no one should walk alone.

My Journey Past Breast Cancer provides ample examples of her ability to combine these three things into one stellar story. Follow along with her recovery and thank her for writing the pure, honest truth of her trials with cancer. See how she won the war by engaging wholeheartedly in the battle.


Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Relay for Life Sonoma

Today is Relay for Life, Sonoma. I did not head up a team this year, or even sign up for one, but I am still participating. You see, with Mark away today, and a farm to take care of, there was just no way I could do it all. I mean, sometimes I think I am super woman.... but when it gets right down to it, I'm as human as the next 59 year old gal who went through chemo and radiation less than a year ago.

Yep, only a short while ago. Thankfully... it feels much longer than that!
My previous post was about the Survivor Dinner that the Relay puts on for all cancer survivors in our community. And I had a very nice time this year.

But for the actual Relay, I went down this morning for the opening ceremonies. And as par for the course, it was very touching. It always brings tears to my eyes to look around and see all the survivor shirts, which are different than the regular Relay shirts. It just puts a huge meaning on this battle we are all fighting. To walk the survivor lap with Denise, and then to have Sarah and Gaige with me this year to walk the caregiver lap and a few more -- it was very special. And my dear friend, Pat Smith, came down to walk with us too.

I love the Doves of Flight, and the sky this morning was unbelievable. I captured a couple pictures of them in flight as Shannon Howlett was singing the most beautiful rendition of Over the Rainbow.

Pat and I returned for a couple of hours, to admire the beautiful luminaries as they lit the path while we took a few more laps in honor of all the survivors, and those who lost the battle, like her dear sweet husband, Win.

If you are so inclined, you can still make donations here: Relay for Life, Sonoma. You can go on to the local website and make a contribution to any team or participant you choose. RFL and American Cancer Society is one of those few organizations who really put the money into research and supporting the cancer patient.


Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Had Fun at RFL Survivor Dinner

I had fun this year at the Relay for Life Survivor Dinner tonight at Hanna Boys Center.

Mostly because I was at a table with people I knew, cousin Denise Emery, her daughter, Jenise Kneeland, and Denise's caregiver/sister-in-law Sheila Secchitano. And the venue was the new Hanna Boys Center gym/performing arts center. It was very nice. And the balcony the room opens up onto is beautiful.

R-L:  Jenise, Denise, Debbie, Sheila
We started off the night checking in and receiving a bag of goodies, including our survivor T-shirt. I'll wear mine during the Relay survivor lap on Sunday morning at 10am. Come on out and root me on if you can. I probably hang around for a few more laps too, and then return in the evening to see all the lit luminarias -- so beautiful each year.

Tonight's program consisted of an inspirational introduction from Felice Torri who has been a survivor for many many years. Dinner followed, which was "okay", but then who can complain about a totally donated meal for obout 200+ people. They served water and ice tea, which was a nice change from the wine served last year. Considering how careful I am now with all the studies showing wine to possibly be a strong contributing factor to not only breast cancer, but the recurrence of breast cancer, I and Kathleen Hill both appreciated this change.

Bruce Griewe's group sang their hearts out beautifully after dinner with several lovely songs. Shannon Howlett's voice is so beautiful, as was the entire ensemble. All the while, a darling little 2.5 year old girl, a cancer survivor herself, was stealing the show sitting on her mother's shoulders and having a ball.

Then Denise and Sheila decided to snoop around and tour some of the facility. The green room was way cool. And Hanna has a wonderful history center that is pretty amazing. You are all invited to drop in and check out the history center, which depicts thousands of photos from when Hanna opened in 1945.

And then home it was.

Glad I went -- will do it again. And maybe next time I will bring one of my caregivers.


Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!


RFL Survivor Dinner Tonight

I'm going to the Relay for Life Survivor Dinner tonight at Hanna Boys Center. I think it will be more fun this year.

Last year I went alone and felt so much like a fish out of water. I was bald, and had barely finished chemo and just had my surgery the month earlier. I really didn't know anyone there and was the only one wearing a hat. I just felt out of place.

When I RSVP'd last year, I asked if I could bring a friend or my husband. The response was, "Have they had cancer?" Thank God they had not. I mean, I was suddenly building this whole group of cancer survivor friends, thank you very much. But none could attend with me. So I trudged on down to Sebastiani Winery. I hate walking in anywhere alone when I have never been there before and don't really know anyone. It was a lovely venue, with an "OK" meal. I was kind of shocked that they weren't serving any beverages other than wine, or so that is what I remember. Anyway, I sat at a table with a group of very friendly survivors and tried to enjoy the evening.

So this year, they allow caregivers. Yahoo!! Not that I am taking mine, but I am going with my cousin Denise and her caregiver. Last year Denise was not interested in going. She had been to many and it just didn't interest her. Unfortunately, this year she experienced a recurrence of her breast cancer and is currently undergoing chemo. So we will both have company this year.

AND.... I'll get to see the newly remodeled Hanna Boyes Center.

Stay tuned... a report of the evening to follow soon.


Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!