The Power Behind You Is Greater Than The Obstacles In Front Of You: Joe and Debbie Cadena

July 19, 2016

When you recite your wedding vows, you never imagine that the first part of the words "in sickness and in health" will actually bear meaning in your own life. For one married couple, those words have hit too close to home. Joe and Debbie Cadena have been married for 14 years, and in the last 6, both have each faced the life-changing challenges of cancer.

Debbie, a Meriden resident who works for a pharmaceutical company, was diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2002. Doctors estimate that her large tumor started as a small polyp seven years earlier, when she was only 38. After chemotherapy, radiation and surgery at MidState, Debbie's battle with cancer was over, but her husband's was only beginning. Joe was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2004. He was also treated at MidState, and was cancer-free until he relapsed last October."After going through cancer once, you're not as afraid of the "c" word," said Debbie. Joe is currently undergoing a study trial stem cell transplant treatment, in which 70% of cases have favorable outcomes.

Debbie said she places all her trust in the physicians who work at MidState's Cancer Center. "I have full faith in this facility," said Debbie. Joe couldn't agree more, and said, "The good thing about MidState is everyone is like family here."

Despite Joe and Debbie's struggles, they focus on the things they love to make it easier. Joe is a local musician and vocalist who often plays at Gouveia Vineyards, George's II, and Borders in the Meriden Westfield shopping mall. "That's what keeps me motivated through treatment," said Joe. For Debbie, laughter with family and friends always got her through another day. She said it "helped me start the healing process."

In 2004, Debbie was invited to speak at MidState's annual Cancer Survivors' Day. She mostly talked about putting life into perspective, not taking things for granted and achieving your dreams. But one of her greatest pieces of advice, she recalled, was this:

"Always remember who's in the driver's seat - you are."

MidState Medical Center