I am a survivor of brain Cancer that is currently in remission. I have been labeled as in remission since 2009. In order for a Cancer to be “In remission” there has to be no signs or symptoms of the Cancer for a period of at least one year.
My Cancer was originally diagnosed in my Thyroid Gland which was removed. The Cancer was then discovered in my female organs, resulting in a hysterectomy. It had spread to my stomach and into the gastrointestinal area. In this area they found gastrointestinal Carcinoid tumors which resulted in more surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Finally after all of this they found a tumor at the base of my brain. It was then that I originally went to the medical triangle at Duke University and then on to my local oncologists for gene therapy in which I participated in cutting edge gene therapy which so far has successfully turned the Cancer off through gene adaptations.
As I was going through all of these struggles, I was very surprised that there was not more help for me out there from organizations in regard to support, resources and information. The Journey had the potential of devastating my marriage and family as the financial obligations mounted and we began to lose what have become standard household items such as a computer with the internet, cable T.V. and an occasional night out for dinner and /or a movie. This journey has placed my husband and families in places they had no desire to go and certainly did not deserve.
That is why I set out to make education and support available for those with families that may follow me through this horrific disease. I began by soliciting for a place here in Apopka that we could set up shop to provide for those families in need, due to Cancer and to Cancer related difficulties. I was able to obtain use of an existing building at the newly refurbished Apopka High School and through the American Cancer Society opened up the first Cancer Resource Center right here in Apopka.
I truly enjoyed my time in opening up that Center and working so closely with the American Cancer Society. During this time I would go to Tallahassee on an annual basis and lobby for Cancer legislation and funding for Cancer related research. My husband Tom and I were fortunate enough to be selected to represent Apopka, in the Celebration on the Hill ceremony, which is a nationally staged event, held in our nation’s capital every four years, again for the benefit of Cancer related legislation and research. Now, I have opened my own community-based resource center, the Debbie Turner Cancer Care/Resource Center on the corner of Eighth and Park just a few blocks south of city hall, again, here in Apopka. My own daughter, Brenda, which is obviously also susceptible to this potentially devastating disease, is the office Manager and works as a volunteer at the Center up to four days a week.
The Center offers support for the victims of Cancer through services such as full makeovers, education, transportation and counseling along with a full range of education and support for the care-givers and other family members of the victim. My husband Tom is a licensed Mental Health Counselor and has experience first hand as a Care-giver and as a Father of children that suffer with a parent who has Cancer. I often utilize him and my Daughter Brenda when working with the family members of the victims.
Now, finally, a little more about myself, my career and my other community involvement. I have been employed and and now retired from Orange County Public Schools as a school teacher of children with special needs. I started my teaching career in Wisconsin and when I moved to Florida, I worked first for the Devereux Foundation of Florida and then I began my career with OCPS at the Magnolia school for the profound mentally and physically challenged. I spent three years at Apopka High school and currently work with children of special needs at the new Wekiva High School. I have worked in the past as a Licensed Foster Care Home parent providing respite care for parents of special needs children.
My community involvement begins as a member of the First United Methodist Church of Apopka. Within the Church I have served as a Youth counselor to include working as a Christian counselor at summer camp and have initiated a woman’s Bible study which has drawn women together of all faiths to help them to step-up to positions of Leadership within the community. I served as a chairperson of the Adult ministry team which has led me educate and support others adults to help them to understand and fulfill leadership roles. I currently sit as a member of the FUMC Church Worship committee.
In addition to my Church, I am a member in good standing of the Apopka Woman’s club, the Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce and an Auxiliary member of the Apopka chapter of the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars.
I would encourage any of you who may be reading this to become involved in your community; the blessings are great and the rewards immeasurable. If you would like to volunteer at the center or just come by to visit I would encourage you to do so. If your passion lies elsewhere and just don’t know how to get started come by and see me and I would be glad to help you to get started. I look forward to meeting every one of you.
God Bless You, Debbie L. Turner