Positive outlook helps flight attendant fight breast cancer

(By American Airlines)

“Keep looking forward and keep moving forward” is the motto Chicago O’Hare (ORD)-based flight attendant Debby Simpson lives by. The three-time cancer survivor believes keeping a positive outlook has helped in her fight against the disease.

“I look to other people living with cancer and cancer survivors for inspiration,” Debby said. “They give me the motivation to live the best life I can, enjoy every moment and to be positive and strong.”

“In December 2000, I was initially diagnosed with breast cancer,” Debby said. “I found a small lump. All the tests up until what they call a simple lumpectomy were negative for cancer. I wasn’t even expecting to be diagnosed. But when the tumor came out, it tested positive for cancer.”

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The pink ribbon is a symbol to show support for breast cancer awareness
Photo by MesserWoland (https://commons.wikimedia.org)

Debby underwent chemotherapy and radiation and returned to work about 15 months later, but she wasn’t in the clear.

“In December 2003, I was diagnosed again. I was on an airplane to London, having some back issues, and I knew something was wrong,” she said. “I went to my chiropractor and he suggested I go to my oncologist, and I thought ‘what?’ So I went to my oncologist, he took a PET scan and my cancer had come back.”

This time, the cancer returned in Debby’s bones, brain, liver and lung. “It was a pretty daunting diagnosis at that time,” she said.

Once again, the American Airlines flight attendant underwent cancer treatment. It took Debby about six years before she was back to flying full-time.

“I finally did come back to work and back to flying. I’m very happy flying,” she said. “I love being a flight attendant. I love the job,” Debby said. “Of course, my seniority over the years has gotten better, so I’ve been able to rearrange my schedule so I can travel, be with family, be with friends; and I love taking care of our customers on the airplane. I’m excited about all the new aircraft we have and the new destinations coming up.”

While on a layover in Paris in 2014, Debby suffered another health setback. “I had a cardiac arrest,” she said. “I went out to get coffee and never came back to the hotel.”

A passing stranger found Debby in the street and called out for someone to perform CPR. Debby was rushed to the hospital and spent two weeks in Paris before coming home with a defibrillator. (Full Story Here)

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