By Diane Y. Welch
Debbie Feinberg, a longtime Carmel Valley resident and a cancer survivor, has strong community ties, deep gratitude for her health and is motivated to give back.
She expresses these three aspects of her life through her involvement with the Susan G. Komen nonprofit organization. Plans are already underway for the annual Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk that will take place Nov. 15 through 17 when participants will undertake a 60-mile route through San Diego. Feinberg will head up a local team of six walkers that has already raised $20,000. This is their third walk with funds collected benefitting research to help find a cure for breast cancer.
Feinberg is preparing for the bold undertaking through physical training and also through the still fresh memory of her own diagnosis which came six years ago, one which makes her more determined in her quest.
“My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months prior to my diagnosis, and we had never experienced breast cancer in our family,” recalled Feinberg. “Then when my diagnosis was made, through routine mammography, just weeks before my eldest was to be married, I was shocked.”
Her cancer was identified as “calcifications” which meant, due to multiple locations, that a mastectomy of her right breast was needed. Chemotherapy was followed by breast reconstruction and a prophylactic mastectomy of the left breast to avoid future cancer growth. Reconstruction was completed by July 2008.
Feinberg and her husband, Bob, kept the news of that initial diagnosis to themselves, agreeing to enjoy their daughter’s imminent wedding. Looking back it was a good decision, said Feinberg, and made the couple realize how fortunate they were to have family and happy times to celebrate.
Being cancer free, for both Feinberg and her mother, was a cause for further celebration. To mark her good health, Feinberg participated in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk. “Sixty miles is no easy task, and I lost at least two toenails at the end of the event — but it was nothing compared to those going through chemotherapy or radiation treatments,” Feinberg said.
Inspired by the outreach of Susan G. Komen, and because of their community involvement, the Feinbergs have been able to reach out to friends and neighbors in raising funds for those less fortunate through their newly founded nonprofit, The Feinberg Youth Foundation. “We were looking for a way to give back in a longer, more permanent way. This foundation represents the culmination of our passion for, and our gratitude to, our community,” said Feinberg.
The goal of the foundation is to provide mini grants to youths, 21 years or younger, to financially support their endeavors in the arts or athletics through programs offered at the YMCA. “For some families the $50 a month membership fee is beyond their reach so we are able to provide that,” Feinberg said.
The Feinbergs met at a YMCA camp in Pacific Palisades almost 40 years ago and attended UCLA together. They moved to Carmel Valley from the Los Angeles area in 1989, raising two children who are now 24 and 29 years old.