She’s the better half of Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese – and a whole lot more.
Debbie Froese is a mom to three grown children – a son and two daughters – a grandma to eight, and a cancer survivor.
Debbie’s battle with the disease is why she and husband Jack lent their support to the Power of the Purse fundraiser at Thunderbird Show Park on a dark and rainy Sunday afternoon.
Proceeds from the sale of new and gently used purses, as well as a silent and live auction, are earmarked for the BC Cancer Foundation to raise funds and awareness in the battle against women’s cancers.
The sold-out community event is close to Debbie’s heart.
That’s because it’s been just two years since Debbie had her final chemotherapy treatment in her battle with Stage 4 lymphoma.
“Actually, at the end of October, was my last chemo, so it’s officially just two years,” Debbie told the Langley Advance during the fundraiser.
But just a year ago, she had another cancer scare, after being diagnosed with Stage 1 uterine cancer, a malignant tumour that starts in the cells of the uterus.
“That one was no chemo, no radiation, which was very nice,” she shared.
Debbie said her initial cancer battle was “very scary.”
“The word ‘cancer’ is very scary,” Debbie said.
“Alarming” was a fitting word in Debbie’s case, after she woke up in the middle of the night with chest pain.
“I was thinking I was having a heart attack,” she recalled. “I thought ‘I’m too young to be having a heart attack!’ They believe it was because the tumour was on my spine, it was the nerves on my spine that was ricocheting through my chest.”
Debbie said through every stage she went through during her cancer journey, from being diagnosed at Langley Memorial Hospital, to the treatment she received at Abbotsford Regional, the doctors and staff at both hospitals were “wonderful.”
“The doctor at the emergency, she just got things rolling,” Debbie said. “She was pretty sure that it was a cancer of some kind because she saw a tumour.”
Today, Debbie said she feels very blessed.
“I had support all across the board,” Debbie said.
Regarding Power of the Purse, Debbie said the goal is not only raising funds but also awareness.
“We know how much technology has come along,” Debbie said.
Power of the Purse was the vision of breast cancer survivor Darla Bracklow, 63, who planned a purse swap in her co-op at Pioneer Park as something fun to do with friends.
It evolved into Sunday’s wildly successful charity event, with a goal of raising $5,000 or more.
Scanning the room, Bracklow said, “This is amazing. We’ve been working on this for months and months, and the support we’ve had is unbelievable.”
Bracklow was diagnosed with breast cancer at 42, but because the cancer was still in its early stages and detected early, she only needed minimal treatments and 21 years have passed since her diagnosis.