Ten years ago, Plainfield resident Debbie Dugas received a devastating cancer diagnosis. Since then, her determination and positive attitude have turned her diagnosis into a journey that has helped others in her shoes through raising funds for Day Kimball Hospital’s (DKH) Rose Bove LaRose Cancer Center.
Debbie was diagnosed with stage 2 HER2-positive breast cancer in 2010. “HER2” is a protein that lives on the outside of breast cells. Some breast cancer cells make too much of this protein, which makes the cell grow faster than normal. This is called HER2-positive breast cancer, which can be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer, and are likely to recur.
The good news is that there are effective treatments for this type of breast cancer. After 2 bouts of cancer, 9 months of chemotherapy, several rounds of radiation, and 3 years of follow-up care and monitoring, Debbie finished treatment on New Years Eve of 2014.
Now marking 6 years cancer-free, and on a mission to give back after her own battle, Debbie set out to celebrate her 58th birthday by raising funds to help patients undergoing breast cancer treatment at DKH’s Cancer Center. “I know what they’ve been through,” said Debbie. “I’ve been in their shoes, and I want them to stay positive and have hope that one day they’ll be in mine.”
Instead of asking her family and friends for gifts this year, Debbie used her birthday wish to organize a corn-hole raffle, raising $1,900 in just two weeks.
The contribution was presented to the Cancer Center on October 12 to purchase grocery store gift cards to benefit “Caitlyn’s Cupboard”, Day Kimball’s hospital-based food pantry established earlier this year.
Caitlyn’s Cupboard addresses malnutrition and food insecurity among patients treated in Day Kimball Hospital’s Rose Bove LaRose Cancer Center through the provision of no-cost shelf-stable food and nutritional education on a monthly basis.
“We are so grateful to Debbie for her support and generosity,” said Kristen Willis, director of development, Day Kimball Healthcare. “To have our oncology patients benefit from such a thoughtful and selfless gesture such as this is truly humbling and reminds us of how fortunate we are to have caring and compassionate people like Debbie in our DKH family. Her contribution will most certainly help make the cancer journey a little easier for patients undergoing treatment in our Cancer Center.”
After her battle with breast cancer, and a 25-year retail career, Debbie decided her “retirement” would be best spent working at a hospital and helping others. She joined Day Kimball in 2018 as a patient access representative where she has been able to play an important role in providing quality care in patient registration and building patient relationships that often last for many years. Debbie looks forward to helping others during the toughest battle of their life by continuing to raise funds for DKH Cancer Center patients in the future.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, Debbie encourages all women to show themselves some love this October by scheduling their regular breast cancer screenings and check-ups. “It’s really important that women take care of themselves and know the signs and symptoms of their bodies. My advice to all women is to get your mammograms, do your breast self-exams, and if you have any inkling that something might be going on, talk to your doctor.”
To learn about Day Kimball’s Breast Health program including mammogram services and screening, visit: www.daykimball.org/women.
For more information about Caitlyn’s Cupboard or to make a food or monetary donation to the pantry, contact Day Kimball Healthcare’s Development Office at (860) 928-7141.
Breast cancer survivor, and DKH employee, Debbie Dugas donates $1,900 to the Rose Bove LaRose Cancer Center at Day Kimball Hospital during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pictured (L to R): Tara Clark, RN, Debbie Dugas, Patient Access Representative, Julie Wilkins, RN, Renee Delude, RN, Jayme Dandeneau, RN, BSN, Oncology Nurse Navigator.