The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice



Debbie Rabourn never thought she’d be a cancer patient at Kaiser Permanente San Jose because she always took great care of herself.

“I was the healthiest person,” she said, “I exercised seven days a week, ate fairly healthy, and always stayed positive.”

But cancer doesn’t discriminate. Thirteen years ago a routine blood test showed Debbie had acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.


“That’s a very serious diagnosis, said Dr. Pilar Ivanov, Debbie’s physician and the Chief of Oncology at Kaiser Permanente San Jose. “The prognosis is not always good in adults.”

Although Debbie’s therapy and life since her diagnosis have been marked by difficulties, her dedication to wellness and positive attitude have seen her through relapse of the cancer and two bone marrow transplants.

“She’s the most positive lady,” said Dr. Ivanov. “She’s very inspirational.”

“I believe that’s what got me through my therapy,” said Debbie, who needed chemotherapy treatments and transplants in 2004 and again in 2011 to put her cancer into remission. There were two frustrating searches for bone marrow donors. One hospitalization almost forced her to miss her son’s high school graduation.

“Dr. Ivanov made sure I had a day pass to attend the graduation,” said Debbie, “and later, my son became a marrow donor for me. I’m so grateful to him, Dr. Ivanov, and Kaiser Permanente.”

Unfortunately, during Debbie’s second relapse, she had to forgo her son’s college graduation.

But Debbie’s journey is one to celebrate in this year’s seventh annual “Seeds of Hope” Cancer Survivor’s Day sponsored by Kaiser Permanente San Jose and Santa Clara Medical Centers.

This year’s theme is “Total Lifestyle Cancer Survivorship”, which integrates modern cancer treatments with physical, as well as, emotional wellness.

“We believe healthy changes in lifestyle positively affect the outcomes for our cancer survivors,” said Dr. Ivanov. “People who keep their weight down, stay active, get restful sleep and reduce their stress and have a great attitude–like Debbie–do much better in recovery.”

This year’s Cancer Survivors Day is being held at the Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center, at 275 Hospital Parkway, on June 12 between 11am and 3:45 pm. This is a day of celebration as well as a conference with several workshops, educational booths and activities for survivors and families. The keynote speaker this year is Dr. Lorenzo Cohen, Director of Integrative Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. His work focuses on educating others on preventing cancer, reducing the negative aspects of cancer treatment, maintaining optimal health throughout life and improving quality of life.

Kaiser Permanente’s Thrive philosophy aligns closely with what will be discussed at “Seeds of Hope” June 12, said Dr. Ivanov.

“We encourage our cancer survivors to stay healthy, reduce their stress and have good support and social connections,” she said. “And of course, doing their medical follow up and screening tests.”

That’s easy for Debbie Rabourn, who said she attends church regularly and has reduced her stress tremendously since her diagnosis. She said she is blessed and thankful for Kaiser Permanente’s care. She praised the nurses at the Kaiser Permanente San Jose Oncology Unit and Dr. Ivanov.

“If it weren’t for Dr. Ivanov, I wouldn’t be here today,” she said

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