October is known amongst the physical therapy community as National PT Month, but it is also more commonly recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of those who have battled breast cancer, we’re taking the time to celebrate our own survivor, Debbie Dieter-Barker, PT, DPT.
Debbie’s experience with breast cancer is coincidentally intertwined with her partnership with EXCEL. After 18 years of owning her own business, Debbie merged with the EXCEL team in 2018. Once she was supported by additional corporate resources, the Ramsey Clinic Director was finally able to take some time to catch up on her routine medical appointments. It was during a slightly late annual physical and mammogram screening that she learned of her diagnosis. At that point, the cancer had metastasized to her lymph nodes and her breast cancer journey began.
“EXCEL saved my life,” Dieter-Barker states of the incidental timing. “There’s no doubt if I hadn’t partnered with EXCEL when I did, that I wouldn’t be here talking to you.”
Passionate About Breaking the Pain Cycle
Debbie has given several community talks about the cyclical nature of pain during treatment with her patients. Guiding people through pain and towards recovery is a key factor in why Debbie decided to become a physical therapist. Taking on breast cancer and experiencing the pain of port-delivered chemotherapy only heightened Debbie’s awareness and empathy of the pain that’s often associated with physical therapy.
“There will almost always be some level of discomfort with physical therapy,” Dieter-Barker explained. “I am extra sensitive to ensuring that I’m doing everything I can to make my patients as pain free as possible, while still making sure they are progressing.”
Spreading the Word
Debbie approaches life a bit differently now, “I absorb the beauties of every day.” While it’s difficult to reflect on her experience, as a perpetual healer Debbie understands the importance of sharing her journey. “If someone takes away one snippet that comforts them, it’s worth sharing my story.”
We could not be more grateful and honored to have such an incredible person on our team. We are proud to have the opportunity to recognize Debbie and all she has overcome.
Unfortunately breast cancer remains the second most fatal cancer amongst women (with lung cancer being first). There are several recommendations for detecting breast cancer early; self-exams, mammograms for recommended populations and living a healthy lifestyle. The survival rate for breast cancer when diagnosed in the early, localized phase is 99%. To learn more about breast cancer detection, treatment and how to contribute to a cure, visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.