Deb Westman can’t sleep. The Lahser media specialist sits down at her home computer and opens up her blog. She starts typing a few lines and sighs, perplexed by the climactic events unfolding around her. She scans medical documents and timelines that she has already analyzed hundreds of times. She sifts through the endless pile of sympathy cards and gifts that flood in weekly. Finding the right words is sometimes hard to do, but eventually the emotions pour out into the text. Through sorrow and elation, her words express a bright optimism despite the harrowing truth:
The light flickers. Deb Westman has been diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic melanoma, a rare and dangerous form of skin cancer. She has gone through chemotherapy three times without avail. She is now a part of a groundbreaking medical research funded by the Stand Up To Cancer Organization, and will partake in a clinical study testing a new drug that she hopes will reduce her aggressive cancer, and ultimately, save her life.
Westman’s journey began on New Year’s Eve in 2010. The phone rang and her doctor delivered the painful news. A successful surgery at the beginning of 2011 led her to believe that she had fought off her disease, but in November of that year, a small bump appeared close to the previous site. A CT scan indicated to Westman that her cancer was not just a one time deal, but a struggle that she would, indeed, need to keep fighting in order to stay alive. She pushed away from the woman who had hardly ever gotten sick in her life, and began to not only accept, but battle the disease as a determined, courageous individual.
Though rattled by the storm, the light continues to burn. Through surgeries, injections, and chemotherapy, her cancer has persisted. She has changed her lifestyle, her diet, anything that might allow for her to overcome this harmful disease, but yet it persists. Though even when the future looks bleak, Westman does not give up hope. Against all odds, she perseveres to combat the malady that tries so desperately to drain her faith. She has gone through more treatments and therapies than many people can even imagine. And through her pain, she powers forward.
The mother of two finds the strength to wake up every morning and go to her job as the webmaster and media technician of Lahser High School. Even when she is constantly faced with the danger of a fatal disease, she has a smile on her face. Whether in her words or her thoughts, Westman expresses optimism that brightens even the darkness of cancer. She believes in the treatment she will be given, and in the doctors that will care for her. She believes in her loving family, and she believes that God is carrying her safely forward. Above all, Deb Westman believes that the day will come when she will be cured.
And the light will continue to burn bright.