Debbie Horwitz has been fighting cancer her entire life. She lost her grandmother at infancy and had her mother taken from her before she blew the candles out on her tenth birthday cake. Growing up with the harsh truth of early mortality that surrounded her is the only life Horwitz has ever known. Then, in June 2004, while preparing for what was to be the happiest day of her life, her wedding, she felt a lump on her breast. In what seemed like seconds later, she was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer at the young age of 32.
Reeling from the trauma and confusion she had endured, her mind was clouded with medical language – she had no idea of what each step of reconstructive surgery would leave her with when she looked in the mirror. There were no visuals available, only explanations and conceptualizations of what her body was about to undergo. Not one drawing or description existed showing the step-by-step process of reconstruction, only before and after photos. A visual learner, Horwitz was frightened to move forward. She felt that, like herself, there were other young women out there fighting the same battle – blindly.
She knew she could do something to increase both knowledge and courage for those in the patient and medical community, and created a public charity called Myself: Together Again, sharing her journey through a collection of photos. Horwitz stood with total vulnerability before a camera, at every phase of the process, to show others that we deserve to be whole again. Originally calling herself “Denise” in the book, she has since come to use her true name due to the project’s success and her desire to personally help other young women understand completely what each step will entail.
It has been nine years since Horwitz’s diagnosis and not only did she have her dream wedding, but she now has two children. Looking toward the future with a new sense of self, empowered with the victory of the fight of living, she helps women find the light and hope on their own path toward recovery. With these background steps in mind, Debbie delivers powerful, inspiring presentations to women’s health groups and doctors, business people, students and cancer care groups.