Cancer Survivor Shares Her Story of Hope
It’s her smile that stays with you. It’s there when you first meet, is obviously genuine, spreads across her face often and lingers after you’ve parted. Yet someone else in her situation might not find a lot to smile about.
In March 2016, scans showed a tumor in Deb Pomeroy’s right hip. When a biopsy was done, it was found to be stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Breast cancer in her hip? Yes, that meant it had started in the breast and had already spread to the bone by the time it was discovered. She was diagnosed and treated with radiation to the hip in another city, but doctors there were hesitant about additional cancer treatment because Deb has a very rare ailment, a form of leukodystrophy called adrenomyeloneuropathy.
Here at Cone Health Cancer Center, Gustav Magrinat, MD, started treatment as soon as she came to him. He also consulted with leukodystrophy experts at the Kennedy Institute at Johns Hopkins University about her needs related to that disease.
Along with cancer treatment, Dr. Magrinat referred Deb for physical therapy to work on her balance, her right hip issues and core strengthening. That was the first of several therapy episodes with the Cone Health Outpatient Cancer Rehabilitation Center. Next she was offered exercise advice before her lumpectomy surgery to help speed her recovery. The surgery went well and, following her therapists’ suggestions, her recovery did too. After breast and lymph node radiation treatment in January and February 2017, Deb developed swelling in her arm (called lymphedema) and received treatment for that as well.
She would later develop urinary frequency and incontinence, and got pelvic floor therapy at Cone Health Outpatient Rehab for that too. She learned exercises for this problem and within five weeks was able to beat it. She had already tried doing Kegel’s exercises, something a lot of women are probably familiar with, but because she wasn’t doing them correctly she needed our therapist’s help.
A milestone was marked at her daughter’s wedding, where Deb was able to participate without the fears of embarrassment that were there just months before.
Adding to her challenges, in October of 2017 Deb’s car was rear-ended. That wreck injured her lower back and left hip (the one opposite where she had the tumor) as well as aggravated her urinary control problems. After being referred to an orthopedist, Deb requested to come back to Cone Health Outpatient Orthopedic Rehabilitation Center where she was familiar with the therapists and had confidence she would receive the best care possible. She finished up just this May and is doing very well!
Deb Pomeroy at Cancer Survivor's Day.
In 2016 after her cancer diagnosis and physical therapy, she participated in Cone Health’s Women’s Only 5K. It’s her goal to walk in this year’s Women’s Only 5K once again.
Deb is very open about the difficulties she has faced. This past June, she spoke to fellow survivors at First National Bank Field in Greensboro for Cancer Survivor’s Day. “I think we need to share our stories with others, to give others hope,” says Deb.