Sutter Cancer Centers
Debbie - Smiling Through Adversity
Breast cancer did not stand a chance against Debbie Seames. The 51-year-old teacher emerged from two surgeries and six weeks of radiation treatment with her unique sense of humor intact.
The ability to laugh in the face of adversity was inherited from her father, George. Seames was at his bedside when he began cracking jokes just hours after doctors had performed open heart surgery. "He was having a great time," Seames recalls.
If her father found amusement in heart bypass surgery, Seames could certainly chuckle at her situation. She was ready and more than willing to put her well-being in the hands of the staff at Sutter Solano Cancer Center in Vallejo. "That's the attitude of our family," she says with pride.
That mind-set served Seames well after she was diagnosed with breast cancer last July. She even shared it with the Sutter Solano staff during the two surgeries and all the radiation sessions. "I had those people in stitches," she says. "It is what it is, so I decided to make it fun." After Seames was injected with blue dye, the doctor joked that she would not turn into a Smurf. Seames responded right away by saying that such a transformation was impossible anyway. After all, she would have to be a Smurfette.
Seames remembers exactly what she told her doctor as she was wheeled into surgery for a lumpectomy. "I told them the one thing they couldn't do was remove my smile," she says. "I'm kind of fond of it." Her sense of humor came in handy when she underwent her radiation treatment too.
Seames did not want to play hooky from her sixth-grade class at Center Elementary School, so the center's staff scheduled her sessions in the late afternoon. "They knew how important it was for me to be at school," she said. "I didn't take one day off. I told the kids that if I could be there every day, they could be there."
All the radiation sessions proved educational for Seames, who learned breast cancer can be conquered. She shared her experiences with her students to teach them how to deal with adversity.
"I told them that I will support them if they can support me," she says. "I wouldn't have made it without them."
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