By Ukee Washington
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –When a Northeast Philadelphia woman was diagnosed with a devastating illness, her first thought wasn’t for herself. She decided to help others in her own shoes.
Looking at Debbie Chakler, you might never guess that she’s sick. But last August, she received the news no one wants to hear from a doctor.
“I’m like, ‘Listen, what’s wrong?'” Debbie recounted. “And she says, ‘Let me show you on the CAT scan.’ And she shows me this huge mass.”
Debbie has cancer. It spread to her spleen, her pancreas and her liver. Today, Debbie carries a satchel filled with chemo drugs that are pumped into her body. She wears a wig.
But Debbie is not focused on her disease. She calls herself lucky.
“I have this great support from my sister, from my family, friends, everybody, my husband. My nieces, my cousins. People don’t have this,” Debbie said.
“She feels that giving back is a key part of her recovery,” said Ronnie Chakler, Debbie’s husband.
Debbie and Ronnie started “A Miracle for Debbie,” a fundraiser for other cancer patients. Their first event, a gala in Northern Liberties a few weeks go, raised more than $20,000.
“I always knew that she was very caring and very giving,” Ronnie Chakler said. “But at a time when a person is allowed to be as selfish as they want to be, she really stepped up to the plate.”
Debbie and Ronnie are already fielding requests from other families.
“I don’t care if they need groceries, if they need to pay their mortgage that month. They shouldn’t worry about that,” said Debbie.
Debbie herself is focused on becoming a survivor.
“I always say, ‘Don’t tell God how big your storm is. Tell your storm how big your God is,'” said Chakler.
For more information on A Miracle for Debbie, click here.