Deb Cummings benefit to be held

Published on Wed, Oct 7, 2009 by Jack Kintner

Read More News

Blaine school administrator Deb Cummings has a motto on her e-mail – “It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do with what happens to you.” On July 15 she was diagnosed with a rare and deadly form of cancer, and two days later she began chemotherapy at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bellingham.

“This was after my doctors had tried for months to figure out why I was feeling down so much of the time,” said Cummings, 44. She has been taking treatments in Bellingham in consultation with doctors at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, a cooperative effort between Seattle’s Children’s Hospital, UW Medicine and the renown Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She’s got the only case of her type of cancer, angioimmunoblastic T cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma, in the entire state. It affects her lymph system as well as her blood, which is where doctors are harvesting stem cells to store and then re-introduce later to help her heal, once the cancer has been pushed into submission with 18 weeks of chemotherapy.

Cummings has two three-week cycles of chemo left, and the stem cell transplant procedure is scheduled for December.

Cummings has responded well to treatment thus far, and has kept a wide and growing circle abreast of developments, sending out voluminous e-mails to a mailing list that’s now over 200 and growing. “They’ll become a basis for a book,” she said.

The Michigan native came to Blaine to teach PE at the primary and elementary school in 1993, then became principal of Blaine Elementary School two years later. For the past four years she’s been director of curriculum, assessment and instruction for the Blaine school district. She was also a delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Her insurance will not cover all of her treatment, so friends have organized a benefit for her that will be held Saturday, October 10, at Kranz’s Barn at 2452 Aldergrove Road in Ferndale. For more information, to donate to the benefit or to help out contact Denise Magnusson at 360.961.1337 or at To get on Cumming’s mailing list contact her at