Meet Debra Jackson – She started riding six years ago, when she first signed up to ride the first Padres Pedal the Cause here in San Diego. She rode with Swami’s for the first time in 2015 and immediately joined the club. Since then, she has been an integral part of D group.
A year ago she moved to Switzerland, where she and her husband, Dan, would occasionally enjoy short trips around Europe. This April, when Debra was riding her bike in Lausanne, she was hit by a car and seriously injured. At that point, everything changed. Her recovery at the hospital is expected to last about six months. Her prognosis is uncertain.
We had the opportunity to interview her.
Swami’s: What made you move to Switzerland?
Debra: The company I work for, BD, has a fairly large office just outside of Geneva, and I was presented an opportunity for a three-year assignment there. I’ve lived in San Diego my entire adult life. It was an opportunity that was pretty difficult to pass up!
Swami’s: What do you miss the most from the U.S.?
Debra: Target, JoJe bars, and Mexican food!
Swami’s: How did you first become involved with Padres Pedal the Cause?
Debra: BD has been a corporate sponsor for Padres Pedal the Cause since its inception. At the time, I was just coming off a year-long Achilles tendon injury and was not able to run long distance. I was looking for a cause that I believed in, as well as something that was athletically challenging. Although I did not even own a road bike, I went all in and committed to the two-day ride. That first year, it started at UCSD, went to Julian, and then back the next day.
Swami’s: Why are you so passionate about Padres Pedal the Cause?
Debra: I first became passionate about the cause because of my dad, who died at the age of 55 from lung cancer. Since becoming involved with Padres Pedal, my passion for this cause has only grown. I’ve had several friends, relatives, and friends of friends who have been impacted by cancer. Also, this is a unique organization that contributes 100% of its fundraising dollars directly to cancer research. They’re transparent as to where the money goes, which is not something you find with a lot of the other large fundraising organizations. Plus, I’ve met many wonderful people and friends. I was honored to serve on the board of directors.
Swami’s: How are you approaching the process of your recovery?
Debra: My recovery will be a long journey, and I’m taking it one step at a time or, as the staff says here, step-by-step.
Swami’s: How do the get-well cards and messages you have received help you?
Debra: I am so deeply touched by all love, words of encouragement, and support that I have received since my accident. Every card, email, text, instant message, etc., holds a special place in my heart. There is not one that is better than the other – and they fill my “treasure chest,” to be used for strength as I go through the difficult times in my recovery.
Swami’s: What do you think of the Swiss healthcare system?
Debra: My experience with the Swiss healthcare system has so far been very positive. I have received top-notch care while in the Swiss Paraplegic Center in Nottwil. I have an outstanding team of doctors, nurses, and physical and occupational therapists.
Swami’s: Is language a barrier in communicating with your healthcare team?
Debra: The more I get into my recovery, the more I would say that yes, language is a barrier. Swiss German is the primary language spoken in my hospital, and English fluency varies from moderate to none at all. Communicating with my nurses can be difficult at times, especially when I need to explain something or have an in-depth conversation. Sometimes I just want to have an easy conversation in English! Luckily, the doctors who need to be the most fluent are the most fluent in English.
Swami’s: What can your Swami’s friends do to support you during your recovery?
Debra: Keep the words of encouragement coming. As I mentioned before, they really do help more than you will ever know, and don’t forget about me! Finally, it is really touching that Swami’s has formed a team in my honor this year for Padres Pedal the Cause, since I cannot ride. Padres Pedal is something that’s been near and dear to my heart. Words can’t express what this means to me.
How You Can Get Involved
This year, Swami’s Cycling Club will be participating in Padres Pedal the Cause in honor of Debra. Team “Swami’s for Debra” has been formed to raise funds for Padres Pedal the Cause in Debra’s name on November 16, 2019. Consider joining our team! There are 25, 55, 88, or 100 mile distances to choose from, and the money you need to raise is based on the distance chosen. You can get $250 off the fundraising minimum for any distance with the Early Bird special until August 15. Or, make a donation to this great cause!