DAVIE (CBS4)- Stomach cancer is one of the least federally funded and least familiar cancers in the country, but one South Florida woman is out to change that.
Debbie Zelman said she has been living with stomach cancer for almost four years, and was diagnosed when she was only 40-years-old. The doctors gave her a five percent chance of survival and her biggest concern was her family, she said.
Zelman said, “Not knowing if I’d be her for my kids” was the worse part, which includes 13-year-old twins Rachel and Zachary and 6-year-old Sarah.
But the biggest burden she feared was falling on her husband Andy.
“We went through a lot of discussions that most people don’t have to have, you know, about me being a single and what if I became a single parent” Andy Guttman, Zelman’s husband said.
While fighting the cancer Zelman realized there was little in the way of support and federal dollars for research were slim.
So she got together with her friends and made a worldwide difference. She started a non-profit foundation, specifically Can’t Stomach Cancer.
In three years the organization spread across the globe. Debbie’s friend Robin Sobo Moselle helps run the nonprofit.
“It’s amazing what this organization has been able to do in a short time of its existence,” Moselle said.
The organization raised $450,000, held events all over the country, started a hotline, website and organizing a second symposium for doctors. They’re also getting ready to expand to Japan where stomach cancer is prevalent.
Zelman said it inspires here everyday.
Zelman said that by helping others she helps herself. Her kids even started a stomach cancer awareness club at school, a family and friends effort making a difference across the world while Zelman continues to beat the odds while still fighting the disease.
“I’m still here,” she said.
Twenty two thousand people a year in the U.S. is diagnosed with stomach cancer, one million worldwide. Zelman is slowly bringing those people together by spreading awareness and prevention.
For more on Can’t Stomach Cancer, click here.