Physical therapists everywhere celebrate October as National PT Month, but most of the population recognizes it as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. EXCEL is proud to share the story of our very own survivor, Debbie Dieter-Barker, PT, DPT.
EXCEL’s Ramsey Clinic Director, Debbie Dieter-Barker, PT, DPT, is known by her patients as a passionate, ingenious physical therapist. “First class.” “Exceptional.” “Best in the business.” Those are just some of the adjectives used to describe her, as she prides herself on success where other attempts at physical therapy have failed. But many may not be aware of all the stories that make up the clinician and her passion for patient care, including her breast cancer journey.
Debbie’s experience with breast cancer is coincidentally intertwined with her partnership with EXCEL. Debbie founded TruCare Physical Therapy on her own in 1999. After 18 years of owning and operating a small business, Debbie partnered with the EXCEL team.It wasn’t until she had access to additional corporate resources that Debbie finally took some time to catch up on routine medical appointments. It was following a belated annual physical and mammogram screening that her physician diagnosed her with breast cancer.
Debbie underwent a mastectomy and subsequent reconstruction surgeries, 18 months of chemotherapy and 33 rounds of radiation. While guiding people through their own pain and towards recovery has always been a driving motivation for Debbie, her own painful experiences with treatment are what sparked an improved empathy for her patients.
“My journey has given me a greater appreciation of a path to recovery in which all my patients take,” says Debbie. “I never looked at it from that perspective, but after major surgery, chemo and radiation, I have a newfound appreciation for all my patients go through. If there is anything I can do to make their process a little bit easier, I’m passionate about doing it.”
On Fridays, we wear PINK.
Another passion of Debbie’s is sharing her story in an effort to raise awareness surrounding breast cancer. This month, you may notice some of our EXCEL employees wearing pink on Fridays. Each staff member wearing pink is contributing $5 to be donated to the Spoil Me Pink Organization. Spoil Me Pink is a Non-Profit, 501c3 that provides breast cancer survivors or those currently battling breast cancer with a day to escape the effects of treatment. Debbie was one of the women nominated and selected for such a day, and EXCEL is happy to support the organization anyway we can.
Now, Debbie approaches life with a fresh appreciation for the beauties of every day. “I make sure to be thankful for all my blessings, including being a position to help others in my work and grateful for all that I’ve overcome,” reflects Debbie. “Fighting breast cancer is a journey that requires support, strength, and courage. I hope to pay it forward as much as I can!”
We could not be prouder to have such an incredible person and survivor on our team. We are so grateful that we can still support Debbie and will continue to in the years to come.
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.