Deb’s Story Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

My Breast Cancer Story
Deb Wills

in 1986, while showering, I discovered a lump in my right breast. It was
the size of a cherry and felt hard. My heart sank immediately. I had no
idea at the time how my life would change forever.

After a series
of doctor's appointments, during most of which I was told the "lump"
appeared benign, I was connected with Dr. Kathryn Alley, a surgeon based
in Washington, DC. In late April, 1986, she performed a biopsy which told
me what I had feared...I had cancer!

A lumpectomy
with auxiliary dissection was scheduled for the following week. I remember
going home and opening a bottle of wine…mostly numb and unsure what
the future would hold. My surgery was on April 26, 1986.

My breast
cancer had begun to spread to my lymph nodes. I had Stage II cancer with
a 50% survival rate in 5 years
. Here I was, 32 years old, faced with the
prospect of my life ending way too early.

from the surgery turned out to be the easy part of the whole experience.
Two weeks after the surgery I met with the radiologist at George Washington
Hospital Center to begin my 6 weeks of daily radiation treatments. Next
I met with the oncologist, Dr. Harold Mirsky, and began my 18 month experience
with chemotherapy. Determined to work through this, I had the love and
support of family and friends and made sure I got a good therapist! I
thank my doctors and health care team for saving my life!

Each morning
I would travel (about 45 minutes) via subway to downtown Washington, DC
for my radiation treatment and then head to the office for a day's work.
As the treatments wore on, I became more and more fatigued, but I continued
to try and maintain my daily activities which included a full time job,
gardening and playing softball.

It's is now
over 25 years later and I am healthy and fit, in fact I have completed
two Half Marathons within the alloted time and now run 5Ks!! I am so so fortunate to have
my health and remain active in the fight against Breast Cancer.

When I first
heard about the Avon Breast Cancer Walk in 2001, it immediately touched
my heart. I trained for 5 months during the winter of 2001 for the May
2001 Washington DC Walk. While I participated each day of the walk, I
ended up in the hospital and was unable to go the distance. At the time,
I was heartbroken that I was unable to accomplish my goal of walking 60
miles. In retrospect, it was a gift and just strengthened my resolve to
fight this disease! Once I had recovered, I made the commitment to walk
again. In fact, in 2002 I did 2 60 Mile Avon Walks within 3 weeks of each
other (San Diego and Washington, DC).

Since that
time, I have participated in all the Washington, DC Avon Walks as either
a walker or weekend crew member supporting the walkers. I have become
very active fundraising for this cause. Through the generosity of my friends,
family and readers of AllEars, I was the Number 1 fundraiser in Washington
DC in 2009, 2010 and 2011!
In 2011 with the help of my running team, Team AllEars, I raised $77,413

I participate
in these events for all those who came before me, those fighting the disease
today, my fellow survivors and those less fortunate than I who are no
longer with us. I participate for the hundreds of men and women I have
met as result of participating in the Avon Walk Events; those who have
who have taken the time to share their stories, fears, tears and joys
with me.

I also participate
in loving memory of my mother who died at age 42 from Ovarian Cancer.

Please join
me in this fight!

Deb Wills


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