Debbie St John Marchan
Debbie St John Marchan was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 45.
“I’ve had a benign lump in my breast since teenage years. I’m the kind of person that always does checkups and advise others to do so as well. During one of my regular screening I was sent to do a mammogram where they discovered the cancer. I did a lumpectomy, however the results were not reliable so I was advised to do a mastectomy. I decided to continue my treatment in New York where I took the radical approach and did the mastectomy.
When you hear the word cancer the first thing you think about is death. I had to remove these thoughts and think of what would happen to my 11 year old son if I died. My main concern was my son. My family has no cancer history. The doctors and nurses treated me very nice at St James Medical Hospital. They are well trained to deal with patients. Treatment was also good in New York, they did things in a timely manner however, it was not the best care possible. One of the hurdles I had to cross was waiting for insurance to get treatment for cancer. I waited from November to January before any treatment could be started. I think health care persons should move a little faster in dealing with cancer patients.
My diagnosis affected my son’s behavior and his grades negatively. He felt like when I went away for treatment I won’t return. Other family members were hurting as well. I shaved my head during treatment because when your hair starts falling you want to be in control. I remember my daughter was willing to shave her hair to support me. It was a touching mother daughter moment. I think the children are more scared than the parents. God was my biggest supporter. It felt like me and God alone even though some of my family supported me. You have to rely on your spiritual self a lot more when going through this.
I don’t think we are doing all that we can to reach where we should be in the fight against cancer, however, we are getting there. The health care system is not reliable and we need to fix that. If you don’t have adequate finances you might not have the best chance in fighting against cancer. I think the family and patients need to be educated so they can know what is going on. There should be a support group for them so they could get cancer information needed because sometimes they are scared to ask. I was scared to ask about these things. If we can get a support group together that would be a great help. People should go get tested no matter their age because early detection is the difference between life and death.”