Deborah Davis Huberfeld - Patient Story

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"I wanted a second opinion and chose Fox Chase."

— Deborah Davis Huberfeld

In 1999, Deborah Davis Huberfeld and her husband, Stan, were busy running their own businesses and raising a pair of toddlers, Sarah (4) and Jesse (18 months). Not long after Stan sold his printing business and started working for the new owners, their lives turned upside down. Deborah noticed a bruise on her breast that wouldn’t go away, but there was no lump. “I had ropey breasts so I didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary,” she said.

She made an appointment with her family doctor, who initially didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary either – but then his face went white. He sent Deborah, who was 47 at the time, for a mammogram right away. “That is when they saw the cancer in a star-like pattern,” shared Deborah, who called it a ‘stealth tumor.’

“I wanted a second opinion and chose Fox Chase because I understood it was the premier cancer center in the area and they do nothing but treat cancer all day, every day,” she shared. Deborah also consulted Philadelphia Magazine’s “Top Docs” issue and found her team.

“I loved that Fox Chase offered me the chance to meet with my whole team at my first appointment,” said Deborah. “I knew I was in good hands and everyone was on the same page.” Her team consisted of Mary Daly, MD, PhD, a medical oncologist; Elin Sigurdson, MD, a surgical oncologist; Joseph DiBello, Jr., MD, a plastic surgeon, and a radiation oncologist (who has since retired). “They were just wonderful – everyone was kind and straightforward.”

Deborah was admitted to Fox Chase in April 1999 for her mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. She felt extremely prepared because the doctors had spent a good deal of time answering her questions and addressing her concerns. “One of my worries was waking up from surgery and feeling blind without my contacts. One of my nurses assured me I’d have my glasses on when I awoke, and sure enough, she was right. I treasure the personal care that I receive at Fox Chase.”

Breast cancer patients have several choices when it comes to reconstructive surgery. Deborah chose the TRAM flap reconstruction and spent eight days in the hospital recovering. “Everyone was great – my favorite was a night nurse who noticed my breathing was funny and sent me for a chest x-ray. Turned out, I was developing pneumonia that was quickly treated.” Deborah shared. “The follow-up care I received when I got home was tremendous. Someone was checking on me all the time, which was important because we had two small children to care for.”

Following her recovery, Deborah began a course of chemotherapy in June 1999. “The nurses were terrific,” shared Deborah, who appreciated their attentiveness to her nausea and pain. “They really helped me manage the side effects of treatment.”

Deborah’s last step in treatment was radiation therapy which started after the December holidays. “I got through radiation and finished 11 months after my initial diagnosis. The year was a blur, but I am forever grateful to my husband, our family, and friends who supported me through this difficult time.”

During her treatment, Deborah took a break from her full-time work as a marketing consultant. The following summer she decided to join her husband in business as printing brokers. “Cancer was a challenge, but life is full of them,” explained Deborah. “Becoming parents wasn’t easy either. We adopted our daughter from China and our son from Guatemala. We are blessed to have them in our lives.”

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