October 1, 2020
Deb Kalberer knew the risks. She watched her parents die of cancer and saw countless friends and family members battle breast cancer.
She didn’t want to wait for it to happen to her. Deb chose to have a preventive double mastectomy , which has helped reduce her chance of getting breast cancer by at least 95 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute.
“I did this for my family, my son and two daughters,” Deb said. “I want to be around for them.”
Scare after scare
Deb’s journey started in 2017 with her routine mammogram. There was a suspicious spot, and Deb needed to have a biopsy.
“I was so scared, because I knew there was a high chance of me having cancer,” Deb said, citing her family history. “The team at Sanford was so amazing. They treated me like I was the only person they were treating.
“There was someone there to hold my hand during the biopsy and give me a hug after. They were so incredibly kind.”
Deb was beyond relieved when the results came back negative.
Then the next year, her screening showed another lump. The fear was back, but once again it turned out to be nothing.
Deb felt grateful, but these scares weighed on her. As she saw more friends diagnosed with breast cancer, she felt like she had a ticking time bomb sitting on her chest.
A difficult decision
Eventually, Deb started considering the risk-reducing prophylactic double mastectomy.
“It was a harder decision than I thought it would be,” Deb said. “It’s part of your womanhood — part of your identity — being cut off.”
But once Deb made her decision, she never looked back. Deb underwent her double mastectomy in December 2018.
“My doctors at Sanford exceeded my expectations and made the whole process much easier,” Deb said. “I had the best doctors and nurses. They took the fear out of a difficult situation. I feel so lucky to have great care, just 30 minutes from my home.”
Deb looks forward to the day when no woman has to make the decision she did.
Join her in the fight against breast cancer this fall. With your support, we can accelerate breakthroughs and save and improve the lives of women across our region.
To make a donation or find other ways to get involved, visit sanfordhealthfoundation.org/edith.