We are thrilled to have Debbie McKenzie as our 2018 SummeRun honoree! Debbie and her family and friends have been supporters of the SummeRun for the past three years and are great friends of the Rivkin Center. We know Debbie’s story will inspire you as you participate in this year’s event!
Debbie had just turned 60 and was still basking in the glow of the celebration party her husband Kip hosted for her. Life was good. Their kids were raised, and successfully leading their own lives. The plans Debbie and Kip had dreamed about for 40 years were evolving, and they were ticking off the few more years until retirement. Then, just two weeks after her birthday, their world fell apart. Debbie was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer.
Her symptoms, or lack thereof, were typical of ovarian cancer. Hardly anything, just a random menstrual like cramp once or twice a day. Yet, Debbie knew her body, and something was not right. She was post-menopausal, and shouldn’t be having cramps. An ultrasound was ordered and came back negative, but she persisted, and ask for a CT scan. Debbie’s best friend had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer the previous year, so cancer was definitely on her mind.
The CT scan with contrast showed multiple nodules throughout Debbie’s abdomen, as well as over a liter of fluid buildup on her lung. A CA-125 blood test was done and her levels were at 1800, which is almost 50 times above normal. Her oncologist, Dr. Hank Kaplan, ordered a complete hysterectomy and took an aggressive approach, prescribing chemo therapy three times per month, and in eight months, she was in remission. But it was to be short lived, and eight months later, Debbie had a recurrence of ovarian cancer.
After nine more months of nearly weekly chemotherapy, Debbie was declared cancer free in September 2017. This time while undergoing treatment for her cancer, Debbie struggled with other health issues. She had a blocked ureter that caused a lot of kidney pain and she ended up with a nephrostomy bag. Debbie was often heard to say, “I can deal with the chemo, it’s just all the other stuff that makes it hard!”
Debbie now takes a twice daily PARP inhibitor, Lynparza, a maintenance drug that was recently approved by the FDA. She has experienced minimal side effects, and says she feels great!
Debbie’s Involvement with the SummeRun
In 2016 Debbie learned about the SummeRun & Walk and decided to form a SummeRun team — Team Warrior Princess. She had 52 team participants joining her in first year in her fight against ovarian cancer. Today Debbie’s family and friends continue to surround her and Team Warrior Princesses in support of her efforts to raise funds for ovarian cancer research, education, and high-risk prevention & early detection screening.
Join Debbie on July 15, 2018 for the SummeRun
The Rivkin Center is proud to have Debbie as our 2018 SummeRun honoree! A big thank you to Debbie and the McKenzie family for being great partners in the fight against ovarian cancer. We look forward to all participants hearing more about Debbie’s story at the starting line on July 15th!