Losing a parent is one of the toughest things a person can experience, especially when the end follows a long battle with breast cancer. But the son and daughter of Debra Hurt are proud of the way their mother remained faithful to the end.
“She had a heart of gold and didn’t see the fault in people. She always looked at the positive and believed anyone could overcome any obstacle. She kept her faith, and my dad said one of the last words out of her mouth were that she was ‘going home’,” said Amanda Hurt, now a resident of LaFayette, Ga.
Debra Hurt’s cancer diagnosis came in February 2014, and she hung on until passing in June 2020. Amanda and her mother both worked in the field of apartment complex management, so she relied on Debra for advice about the job. She’s thankful that her son, 8, got to spend time with her, although she wishes he’d known the person she was before the pain.
Briefly, she experienced remission, but the cancer returned with a vengeance that time. Her mother continued to mentor others starting in their line of work until it became too difficult for her to speak anymore.
Amanda’s brother and sister-in-law, Darryn and Kayley Hurt, now live in Moody, but when Debra got the diagnosis, they returned to Fort Payne to spend as much time as they could with her.
“It was devastating,” he said. “She was a district manager for Sunbelt and managed apartments for 30 years, traveling just about every week, so it was tough for her having to retire. Doctors found her cancer spread to her bones, moving from her hip to her spine. The chemotherapy couldn’t help her at that point. The cancer eventually spread to her jaw.”
During this period, he said his mother enjoyed trips to the Cancer Center.
When the Cancer Center asked her to mentor others who would call her upon receiving their own cancer diagnosis, Debra Hurt gladly agreed to play that role. She knew how they felt.
Her words, replacing fear and uncertainty with knowledge and wisdom, no doubt brought comfort to others as they experienced some of the most frightening moments of their lives.
“She also loved going to church and continued to do so until she just couldn’t leave the house. Then the church pastor would visit and minister to her there,” he said.
From this experience, Amanda said she learned to become more diligent about getting breast exams and hopes others will do the same.