Wichita Cancer survivor beats the odds, encourages Leon Smitherman

WICHITA, Kansas – Back in 2009, Debbie Mitchell listened carefully as doctors told her she had a year and a half to live.

“So, that was then,” says Mitchell. “I guess you could say I have lived past my expiration date.”

Mitchell doesn’t mind joking about her very serious cancer diagnosis. She says she battles Colon cancer every day. And she is winning.

She says she wants to encourage KSN’s Leon Smitherman as he battles colon cancer, just as she has done.

“Look… After my last surgery, my goal was to start running again,” says Mitchell. “And, so, yes, I have a little running group and one of my friends is a stage 4 colon cancer survivor also.”

gyrig-logoMitchell says she’s not running from cancer. She’s running straight at it. She works with the Colon Cancer Coalition, and for four years now, Wichita has a fun run to raise money to fight colon cancer.

The fun run is called, Get Your Rear In Gear.

Debbie continues to run in the event, despite another cancer surgery in 2011.

“Cancer is often the first thing on my mind in the morning,” says Mitchell. “And at times it’s the last thing on my mind before I go to sleep. But, it doesn’t define me.”

Mitchell says support from her sister, husband and work friends goes a long way.

“Support has been great,” explains Mitchell. “You have to have support.”

And while Leon Smitherman begins his journey to fight colon cancer, Mitchell has some advice.

“Well, eat foods that fight cancer,” says Mitchell. “I eat a lot of healthy foods now… and my husband is good at reminding of that. It helps.”

Mitchell says a healthy mind also makes for a healthy body.

“I don’t want to dwell on the negative, because when you’ve been given a short amount of time to live and you’ve surpassed that, you really have to appreciate what you have.”

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