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Making strides toward hope (10/09/2013)
By Jen Burris

Photo by Jen Burris
      Vicki Decker, Making Strides Person of Hope, spends time with her granddaughter Madelynn.
Vicki Decker has chaired steering committees, created scholarships, traveled the world, and survived breast cancer.

This year, Decker is the Person of Hope for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event, Saturday, October 12 in Unity Park. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m., followed by a brief program and the walk.

In October of 2012, while vacationing out of the country, Decker found a lump in her breast, three days before her return home. When she arrived back in the U.S., she visited her doctor, and by November 12, 2012, she had been diagnosed with stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma, which which was also in her lymph nodes. On November 25, she began chemotherapy, which lasted through March of 2013.

“I really didn’t leave the house from the time I started the cancer treatment, chemotherapy, until I finished in March, except for Christmas with my family and going to clinic appointments,” Decker said.

That didn’t stop people from seeing Decker, as she had constant visitors.

“I’ll tell you, the silver lining in all of this is that so many people rally around you; it’s just heartwarming,” she said.

From mid-December of 2012, when people became aware of Decker’s diagnosis, until the end of March, there wasn’t a single day that she did not receive a card, letter, note, or gift in the mail.

Following the end of her chemotherapy in March, and a double mastectomy, Decker had her first reconstructive surgery in April of 2013. After a month of recovery she began radiation in June 2013, which she completed on July 8, 2013. She has remained cancer free since that time and will visit with her doctors this month to plan her second surgery to complete reconstruction.

Throughout her struggle with breast cancer, Decker’s bridge group took turns bringing meals for her and moved the weekly bridge game to her house. Her fellow church members also prepared meals for her and her husband.

Decker also heard from a former colleague, who stressed how influential Decker had been to her career. It was then that Decker told her husband how rare it is to hear those comments when one is still alive.

“It’s like epitaphs at funerals,” she added.

Notes, like the one from her former colleague, made Decker more cognizant of making an effort to share with people how they have touched her own life. Decker added that the right moment to tell them may never come.

Decker noted that the American Cancer Society’s slogan — "The official sponsor of birthdays" — has been a favorite of hers. Birthdays have always been extremely important to her and her family.

“When I realized I had cancer, that was one of the first things that came to mind—how many more birthdays am I going to have,” Decker said.

In September Decker celebrated her first birthday since discovering she had cancer. She said that as people age they often become disheartened about birthdays. Her bout with cancer, though, has created an even stronger love for birthdays.

“I’m wearing every one of them like a badge of courage,” she said.

For more information or to pre-register for the Making Strides event on Saturday, October 12, in Unity Park please go to www.makingstrides.acsevents.org.



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