Debbie Kahla

First post: Aug 31, 2020 Latest post: Oct 21, 2020
Welcome to Debbie’s CaringBridge website. Debbie’s daughter Hilary is using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement.

A little history: Debbie was diagnosed with cancer in Feb 2019. Originally though to be pancreatic cancer, but later determined it was in the bile duct - Bile Duct Cancer Stage II, or “Cholangiocarcinoma.”

For more info on Bile Duct cancer: (

Debbie had surgery, a Whipple Procedure, in March 2019 at Mass General Hospital in Boston. She then went through eight rounds on chemotherapy from May 1999 - Sept 1999. In Oct. - Nov. 1999 she had 28 doses of radiation therapy. All these procedures produced good results and Debbie tolerated them all very well.

In Feb. 2020, a year after her  first diagnosis during a routine CT scan, her oncologist discovered that the cancer had spread to her liver. After a biopsy, it was determined Debbie had Stage IV Metastatic liver.

A liver metastasis is a cancerous tumor that has spread to the liver from a cancer that started in another place in the body. The cancer cells found in a metastatic liver tumor are not liver cells, they are the cells from the part of the body where the primary cancer began.

Debbie’s doctors recommended a wait and see approach. The cancer was not spreading quickly and Debbie, in her words, “felt fine” and was even teaching handling classes at two separate dog training facilities.

In July 2020 Debbie underwent a new, much stronger targeted radiation therapy on the liver cancer cells. Again that was successful and has slowed the growth of the existing cancer cells. Debbie is due to start a Chemotherapy Trial with Mass General in Sept. 2020.

Debbie has endured this last year and a half extremely well, with good humor, and has continued to live independently with her dog, Steve. Last fall, in between chemo and radiation, Debbie was even campaigning for Pete Buttigieg in Mass and New Hampshire.