Mother pushes for better cancer diagnosis


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ALPHARETTA, Ga. — After a year of being misdiagnosed, Debra Sweat couldn’t understand what was going on.

Sweat, of Chesapeake, Virginia, had a physical exam that showed nothing was wrong. But something wasn’t being detected properly, she said.

“Because the mammogram came back with no problem, the doctor didn’t notify me of anything wrong,” Sweat said. “Eventually, I started getting tired, but I assumed it was because I was working nine hours a day, five days a week and had a part-time job on Saturday, and I was taking night classes to get my degree.”

A month after graduating with her Social Science degree, Sweat, a mother of two, found out what was making her ill and causing so much pain.

She had pancreatic cancer.

When her family found out, they asked her to come to Alpharetta to stay with them, while she got treated at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Southeastern Regional Medical Center (Southeastern). The facility is located in Newnan, Ga. south of Atlanta.

“People are so busy with their normal and busy life that when they feel a twinge or they feel pressure, you just make excuses,” Sweat said. “Now I’ve learned that if something doesn’t feel right, it’s important to get it checked out and not make excuses.”

Sweat is passionate about sharing her story in order to encourage others to pay close attention to their bodies and to be aware of their families’ history. Sweat was an active duty member of the U.S. Navy for 11 years. Most recently, she served as a civil service worker in finance for the Coast Guard in Chesapeake Bay, Va., but in 2013, stepped down in order to begin the fight of her life at Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Early in her treatment, Sweat realized an important aspect towards her recovery involved maintaining a healthy lifestyle. She quickly sought out nutritionists at CTCA to help restore her digestive health and over the course of a year went from a size 18 to a size 2.

“I cannot put into words how thankful I am for the Cancer Treatments of America,” Sweat said. “People who are diagnosed with cancer and want a second opinion, I would definitely send them to the CTCA.”

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