Real women. Real stories.
Meet our MAKEMERRY models.

We continue to shine a spotlight on real-life MAKEMERRY models facing heartbreak, finding happiness, and everything in between—while living with breast cancer. 

This time we meet Deborah, a former prosecutor and perpetual “giver” who dedicated her life to helping others: prosecuting child sex crime offenders, fostering children, adopting her son Sam. But after being diagnosed with cancer, Deborah became the one who needed help...which initially took some time getting used to. Eventually her cancer diagnosis taught her that “it’s ok to receive, and it’s important to receive.” Just as she had poured her heart and soul into saving kids, she recognizes that her medical team is doing the same for her. It’s this awareness that gives Deborah the strength to “grasp at every silver lining” and do “hard things.”

Who did you tell first about your diagnosis?

It would have been my husband, but I had asked my doctor to call his cell to deliver the news because I was too much of a mess to call him myself. The last person in my life to know is our 6-year-old son.

What has been the most surprising thing about your diagnosis or experience?

The fact that it came back so quickly. It was less than two years.

What is the best thing someone has said or done for you during cancer?

My family is my everything. They have loved me and cared for me and prayed over me constantly through my first battle, and even more fiercely now in Round 2. My dear girlfriends have been the best at making me laugh and smile, which has meant so much to me. Laughter is such good medicine!

Now that you have had this experience, is there one thing that you would never say to someone diagnosed with cancer? Why?

I think hearing nothing—silence—is sometimes the most painful thing to experience after sharing your cancer diagnosis. Cancer is such an intense battle on so many levels: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. When someone shares that she's fighting cancer and doesn’t get a response, it can cause her to feel intensely alone. And that’s the last feeling you should have when you’re gearing up for this fight.

What did you know about yourself that was confirmed by this diagnosis?

I can do hard things. It’s funny—throughout the years, people in my life often told me that I was strong and brave when I felt anything but. They mentioned it in the context of the uncommon journey my life has taken: working with sexually abused children, moving to Africa, experiencing foster care and adoption, fighting cancer. I am not strong nor am I brave...but I can do hard things.

What is the silver lining from your experience?

It's hard to see the silver lining right now. Round 2 is much scarier than the first fight. But I firmly believe God causes all things—even awful things like cancer—to work for our good and for His glory. It’s hard to have faith some days, but I cling to this hope.

Do you have a lucky charm or something you wear to every treatment or procedure?

In the first fight, I wore taco socks and ninja underwear to my bilateral mastectomy. (Tacos are the best, and ninjas kick serious butt!.) I wore one or the other to every subsequent procedure/appointment. I haven’t picked out my “thing” yet for Round 2, but I have a couple things in mind, one which will be something to remind me of my sister and make me feel that she’s near, rather than 2,000+ miles away.

Your biggest pet peeve?

Crumbs in bed which is a huge problem because my husband and I are big nighttime snackers. And mosquito bites. Actually, can I change my answer? CANCER. Definitely cancer!

We wish Deborah the best in her second fight. Check back soon to meet our next model: a balloon animal-making occupational therapist who “can’t control what happens, but can control how I move forward.”

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  • Best wishes Deborah. I’ve just completed my radiation treatments after my chemo and now I’m waiting for my MRI in May to see if I’m going to be given the “all clear” for now. I have to be on anti-estrogen drugs for at least the next 5 years so of course, I’m going through my second menopause as I had a hysterectomy at age 32 and I am now 75 years old. I’m still finding it hard to deal with.

    Judith L Ferguson on
  • Deborah, you speak for so many of us, especially around “doing hard things.” That’s a wonderful thing to know about oneself, no? I hope that round two goes quickly for you…. my treatment has been a “marathon,” rather than a sprint, but I’m grateful that it is kicking cancer’s butt. And I’m snding positive, healing energy your way.

    Nancy on

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