The Face of Survival: Breast Cancer Awareness

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(Last Updated On: November 1, 2014)

Deborah Washington’s mother died of breast cancer at 55. When Deborah went in for a physical at the same age, she mentioned an irregularity she’d found in her breast and was sent for a mammogram.

The mammogram revealed a tumor and Stage 2 breast cancer. Washington is currently in treatment, and her prognosis is good.

“I was blessed. If I hadn’t gotten the mammogram, no one knows what would have happened,” Washington said.

Executive Director Jill Vanderhoek, of Central Georgia Affiliate of Susan G. Komen organization shared with me the resilient story of the face of survival, Deborah Washington. Self-examinations and early detections are typical stories of many women who use early detection to help them beat breast cancer. However, Washington is uninsured and it could have taken a much darker turn. Fortunately for Washington, her doctor was at the Macon Volunteer Clinic and her mammogram was paid for by a grant sponsored by the Susan G. Komen Central Georgia Affiliate.

The grant program helps to provide mammograms to women such as Washington who might otherwise fore-go the life saving screening because they could not afford it. Because of the grant program, Washington did not have to scrimp and save for the procedure, she received the needed screening immediately. Without a delay, cancer is beatable.

“It would have taken longer for me to seek a mammogram and there’s a chance I would have been in a worse place than I was,” Washington said. “I knew I was blessed because my mother was at Stage 4 when she was diagnosed. So when they said Stage 2, I was encouraged, because it was still as the beginning stages. It hadn’t gotten worse.”

Diagnosed in October 2013, Washington has undergone chemotherapy and is currently undergoing radiation treatments. She will be able to spend many more years with her family, including her two children, two grandchildren, two sisters and two brothers.

“I have a whole lot to smile about,” she said. “This is not the end for me, there is so much more to achieve.”

As one can imagine, early detection is key in many cases. However, if diagnosed as in Washington’s case, surviving through this disease is a journey in itself. As we draw near the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the fight continues on a daily basis for many who are in their personal fight with such a surmountable disease.

Deborah Washington photo

Let’s not forget the significance of the color of Pink. Breast Cancer Awareness 1

That said; let’s join forces to empower, educate and encourage others in their fight against cancer. But also, let us be proactive with ourselves and others we care about by joining the supportive circles such as the Susan B. Komen and various organizations locally, nationally and abroad focused on providing resources to help aid and assist during the ordeal of dealing with cancer.

More importantly, let’s help fight a disease that has robbed many individuals, families and people of their lives.

A strong take away from this story is – early detection is key.

Feel welcome to share your inspiration, thoughts and comments for Washington at

More about Felicia Smith

Felicia Smith is an author and Empower Magazine columnist.

The Face of Survival: Breast Cancer Awareness