Cancer awareness month holds special meaning for local family

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 20, 2011

By Susan Shinn
For The Salisbury Post
SALISBURY — Debbie Hinson’s favorite color is pink. It’s a good thing.
You can’t get away from the color pink in October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Debbie, 53, is a breast cancer survivor. On Oct. 14, she had a lumpectomy to remove two separate cancers on her left breast.
She’s waiting to learn the stage of cancer she has and what her treatment will be. She already knows she’ll have to undergo chemotherapy and radiation.
Debbie has always been extremely diligent about her breast health. She taught her daughters to do self-exams when they were young teenagers. Her mother, Rachel Castor, died of the disease when Hinson was only 12. Her father George was killed in a car accident just three years later.
“I had to become a pretty strong person at about age 16,” Hinson says. “I want this to be a growing experience. I don’t want to use it as a negative experience. I refuse to.”
Already, her family and friends are rallying around her, and her daughters are taking action. On Saturday, daughters Tara Parker and Lauren Evans, along with daughter-in-law Ashly Hinson and family friend Courtney Alderman, are holding a fundraiser at the Brinkley Center in Granite Quarry. They’ll set up in the parking lot of Eddie’s Grill, a restaurant owned by Debbie’s husband Eddie.
Hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. All proceeds from a Thirty-One sale will be donated to Relay for Life in Hinson’s name. A portion of the proceeds from Eddie’s will also be donated.
Thirty-One is a Christian-based company that sells purses and other accessories through home parties. Alderman has been a Thirty-One representative for several years.
“I felt this would be a great opportunity to give back to the community,” she says.
Debbie also wants to help other women, especially when it comes to getting mammograms and getting early detection of breast cancer.
“My mom is the most positive person,” Tara says. “Not one time has she been negative. She wants to help someone else.”
Hinson found her lump in September after a normal mammogram in November. She and Tara have both had fibrous growths removed from their breasts.
Still, Debbie says, “You need to have everything checked out.”
She notes, “The minute I felt it, I knew it was cancer. It was different, like a hard marble.”
Debbie says that the last few weeks, she’s seen her life differently.
“Everything is so much more precious to me now,” she says. “I’m a Christian. I don’t think you have this big change in your life for nothing. There’s something special that’s going to come out of it.”
During her surgery, one of Debbie’s lymph nodes tested positive for cancer, so all of the lymph nodes on her left side were removed.
“The hardest part is the waiting game,” she says.
Debbie looks back a generation to when her mother was diagnosed. Her mom had a mastectomy, but the cancer spread, and she did not take treatment.
“We all have girls,” Tara says. Her daughter, Victoria, is 4. Courtney’s daughter Ava is 4 and Lauren’s daughter Callie is 5.
“I never met my grandmother, but when Victoria comes along, she will have the cure. We’re gonna do this every October,” Tara says.
“We want a cure,” Courtney adds.
Debbie told her daughters about her diagnosis on Sept. 23, which was Tara’s fifth wedding anniversary. At first, Tara was sad that it was the same day her mother was diagnosed with cancer. But her mother had different ideas.
“That’s gonna be a good day,” Debbie told Tara. “That’s one more year your momma is gonna be cured.”
Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.