The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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October 17, 2013

Survivor shares story of diagnosis, treatment

Part 3 of our Breast Cancer Awareness series

CLINTON — Deb Cramer was showering one day last August when she looked down and noticed one of her nipples was inverted. Feeling her breast, she found a lump.

“At first, you’re in self denial. You don’t want to, you know, believe that it is a lump,” Deb said.

She did not say anything to anyone until the following night, telling her husband of 38 years, Larry. After that she went to her nurse practitioner, who got the ball rolling and scheduled the biopsy.

“It’s kind of just a blur after you find the lump,” Deb said.

Diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, Deb was set for surgery in September 2012. A lumpectomy was performed, but tests showed the lump to be larger that expected, requiring a mastectomy. At age 57, Deb faced the loss of her breast.

For Deb, her cancer presented another concern. Her daughter-in-law battled the genetic type of breast cancer at age 27. While she is healthy now, Deb said it made her worry about her two granddaughters.

“It just makes it really difficult to know that their chances are that much greater to get it,” Deb said. “So, that’s the hardest part for me.”

After her mastectomy, Deb started six rounds of chemotherapy with Dr. Anoop Aggarwal. Having worked for Mercy Medical Center for 22 years, she said she was lucky to have been treated by people she knows. During her treatment, she continued to work as the unit secretary for the rehabilitation unit.

One of the most difficult parts of her chemo treatments was the fatigue she felt. By three days after a treatment, Deb would feel physically drained.

“It’s the tiredness that you really can’t explain,” Deb said. “You want to keep your eyes open, but you can’t. It just wipes you out.”

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