13 years. That’s how long Pastor Debbie Pratt has been cancer-free. But the road to recovery wasn’t easy,

In 2010, Pratt found out she had throat cancer after finding a lump on her throat during a trip to Israel.

“I didn’t have a sore throat. I didn’t have any other indication other than it was swollen. And our friend that we were with, that’s a doctor, he said ‘Well Debbie, when we get back let’s have that looked at quickly,” explained Pastor Debbie Pratt.

When she returned to the U.S., she immediately got it checked, and her surgeon recommended immediate removal. The next month, she was diagnosed with throat cancer on the tonsil.

According to the American Cancer Society, it’s relatively rare in women, as for females, there is a one in 140 chance of getting it. While for men there’s only a one in 60 chance.

Symptoms can include:

  • throat pain
  • shortness of breath
  • persistent sore throat or cough
  • coughing up blood
  • and even changes to the voice such as hoarseness

Pastor Debbie got the cancerous tumor removed and was immediately taken into treatment, undergoing radiation and chemo at the same time.

“I had a wonderful doctor. Dr. Nimeh was here at the Cancer Center. And he told me how debilitating it could be, and I just decided I was going to lean in and trust. Proverbs three, five, and six, say ‘Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean into your own understanding, but in all of your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path’. So, I decided to just lean in, to trust. Trust the Lord first and trust the physicians he put in my path,” remembered Pratt.

Her faith would carry her throughout her recovery journey.

Pastor Debbie lost her hair, her voice, and an extreme amount of weight. At one point weighing 97 pounds.

She credited not just God, but also her husband for sticking by her side and protecting her. At times even having to carry her to bed as she was too weak to walk.

While she was informed to stay away from large crowds, Pastor Debbie still made an effort to attend church, which kept her faith and will to live alive.

She says she recommends everyone gets a screening at the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma in order to catch cancer as early as possible, just as she did.

“The screening we do here is often a physical exam. So, we feel around their neck, look for the lymph nodes, enlarged lymph nodes, and also look inside their mouth to see if there are any unexpected masses or legions,” said oncologist, Dr. Mathew McKeever.

There is not a set recommendation for when you should get a screening, as types of cancers and ages vary. However, if you’re interested in getting one you can call the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma to schedule yours today.

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