A Breast Cancer Survivor’s Story…Debbie

Debbie & her kids, Kaitlyn {7} and Nicky {5}, and their puppy

My name is Debbie Angileri and here is my story…

Three years ago on Oct.1, 2009 I was told I had Breast Cancer at my Diagnostic Mammogram. I thank God for using my husband at the time to get my butt in for a regular mammogram and saving my life. I was overdue (I had turned 40 in January) and because he was divorcing me, he threatened to cancel my health insurance. It’s so cool how God works and to know He is always working! If he would not have said those words to me I would have been in serious trouble in less than a year and dead in two. A year or two goes by really fast when you are consumed with other things and I was.

My mom was with me when I was told. I just remember putting my head on her shoulder and crying as she held me. The first thing that came to my mind is– “I do not have a husband to go through this with me. I’m alone because he is divorcing me.”  When we left that day, the nurse that was with me said you need to go home and have a glass of wine and I said, “no I need to pray!” God is soooo cool and man do I love Him because He heard my need and provided everything without even asking.

Debbie & her daughter, Kaitlyn(March 2012)

From that day on I had flowers, baked goods, cards, phone calls, e-mails, gifts of pajamas, socks, hats, blankets, gifts for my children (and even my mom) and meals everyday from October through January 2010. I had a big house and we ran out of room for my flowers and cards. As my mom said, it was like Christmas everyday! My church and school family also helped with the care of my kids–lunches, getting them to activities and overnights while I was in the hospital and during my 8-week recovery. I was not even a member at the time and my church treated me as if I had been there for 20 years. This is God’s love and Him loving me through so many people.

So, after all the mammograms and biopsy they gave it a name. I was diagnosed with DCIS on October 13th. This is the cancer that is contained, however, mine was about to break out. After two weeks of research, I decided to go with Rush Hospital {in Chicago, IL} and found doctors that I liked and totally trusted. God gave me such peace that I did not need to get 2nd/3rd opinions. I asked if we could wait until after the holidays because I have small children. My doctor described the cancer being “in a cage, about to get out” and we did not have time to wait for Thanksgiving! This was at the end of October…I was scheduled for a double mastectomy on November 12th.

Debbie & her son, Nicky (March 2012)

Everything happened really fast and when you have cancer, you just want it out. I have to admit I was in denial and had a hard time with all this. I remember a lot people calling and leaving messages or e-mails with recommendations for doctors or friends that had Breast Cancer and I just thought, “that’s not me, I don’t have cancer.” Wow! It was such a difficult time for me that I did not even want to know anything about the procedure! My doctors, nurse and mom really encouraged me to sit with my nurse and look at some pictures and understand what I was going to go through. I cried a lot that day and had no idea, but so thankful to my nurse, Sheila, who knew what I needed to know to prepare me in such a kind, gentle way.

Debbie & her friends at a Tickled Pink event

Just a couple testimonies of God’s love. My doctors knew the extreme stress I was under and told me to do something to relax before my surgery. So I called Rocco & Rocco Salon & Day Spa in Downers Grove {Illinois} to get a 90 minute massage, manicure/pedicure and my hair done; I figured it might be my last for a while. When I made my appointments the young man on the phone said, ” Wow this is a lot. What’s the occasion?” I told him and when it came time for me to check out a couple of days later…. my whole bill was taken care of!! The young man was the owners’ son and his mother had Breast Cancer. I was so thankful, what a gift from perfect strangers!

Again, not sure if I was going to lose my hair so I wanted to get some baseball hats just in case. I knew God was in control and I was OK with whatever was going to happen. So I called Ralph Lauren to order some and the lady on the phone and I started talking ( go figure) and she said they have Pink Pony hats and part of the money goes to research because Ralph Lauren’s mother died of Breast Cancer. My order was shipped overnight and all my hats were beautifully gift wrapped for free!! I still have the boxes and bows. God is so good and was giving me hope. He made sure I knew I wasn’t alone. And despite everything going on, we had the best Christmas EVER! I could not move my arms so my Christmas tree was done by my mom and kids. It was combo of me( ribbons, bows and matching ornaments), my children (no comment needed) and my mom (Victorian) and I remember just sitting there and smiling. Knowing I could do nothing and loving it!! I will never forget it! We also did the Jesse Advent Tree Christmas Devotion. My children would each write and perform a song every night before our 25 day devotion leading to Christmas. It was very special and has become a tradition in our family.

I had a long road of recovery and reconstruction plus my dad was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer one week after my double mastectomy. We are good now and both on USANA supplements. Praise God, it has changed my family’s lives!! So in 9 months my dad and I went through cancer together, my Pastor’s wife died of cancer ( Nicky, my son, and 3 other little boys accepted Christ in their hearts because of her death–total praise!). I got divorced, was left homeless and severely in debt. I can relate to Job in the Bible because I lost everything as well, not as severe as Job, but close. In spite of all this, we laughed a lot, cried a ton and prayed without ceasing to get through this.

One of my funniest moments was a few days after being diagnosed, the kids and I flew kites in our front lawn with our new puppy. It was an extremely windy October day and we laughed so hard that my stomach hurt. I guess you would have to be there but a neighbor told me the next day how much she enjoyed watching us while laughing. It was hilarious. A memory during a difficult time that I’m so thankful for. Another special moment was when my mom and I went to the {Signature Room at the} 95th in the Hancock building for lunch after I was told I needed a double mastectomy. We had a beautiful view. We cried, prayed, witnessed to the waiter and laughed so hard my mom almost fell off her chair. It was so good for us and I will never forget her story about “a slice of pumpkin pie”!! I remember asking my pastor if it was OK to laugh during my pain and suffering, because we truly laughed a lot. He reassured me that is was OK & good for me and my family… that God gave us that emotion and to continue doing it!!

Be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

My story is just so crazy and awesome because of God and I just might write a book someday because there is so much more. I give him all the praise and glory. He says it’s not” if” but “when” we go through trials in this life. My faith was tested and I’m so glad for this time because I have grown so much closer to our Heavenly Father and it’s awesome to be loved so deeply by him. Just never really knew how much and to feel it…there’s nothing better.

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

I did not feel anything either. So dear friends, please get your mammograms regularly and encourage one another to do so. It’s so important and can save a life. My kids and I are still thanking God I’m here!!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11



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