Debra Alexis Jefferson – 2017 Ambassador
City: Indianapolis, IN
Date of diagnosis: December 2014
Diagnosis: Stage 0 DCIS
Occupation: Retired, regular volunteer
Debra was at home in her kitchen when she first noticed an abnormality on her breast. After seeing a doctor and still having little answers, she got a biopsy. Based on the results, she was told there was an 85 percent chance that it was not cancer and a 15 percent chance that it was. Debra fell into the 15 percent.
Debra searched for a second opinion, and ultimately changed doctors before beginning treatment. At the beginning of 2015, she had several breast cancer-related surgeries. Debra was initially very private about her breast cancer journey, keeping it a secret from her closest friends and her church community.
“My initial breast cancer journey was full of emotional highs and lows, but my faith helped me get through the toughest times,” she recalled.
After letting a few people in on her big secret, one friend suggested that she participate in the Project Pink Fashion Show benefitting Komen Central Indiana. With Debra holding her diagnosis so close to her, this was not something she was initially onboard with. She wanted to keep her secret. But then she thought- ‘what if I can help someone else by sharing my story?’
Debra made the bold decision to participate as a model and started collecting donations for Project Pink. In the process, she began opening up about her breast cancer journey with her church community and other acquaintances. She soon became one of the top fundraisers for the 2016 Project Pink event, raising more than $1,200 to help Hoosiers in need who are facing breast cancer.
In less than a year, Debra’s mindset about her diagnosis changed drastically, from being very private about it to applying for the 2017 Race Ambassador program and agreeing to share her story with the central Indiana community.
Debra continues to support Komen Central Indiana because she believes the organization is making great strides in researching, reporting, and assisting people that have been affected by breast cancer. When Debra is not volunteering her time, she enjoys crocheting, dancing, and studying God’s Word. Since opening up about her diagnosis, Debra has the desire to help not only those affected by breast cancer, but anyone that she can.
Debra’s takeaway message for others: There is always HOPE!