Susan's Story

Susan is a woman with an incredible journey in her past, present and future. Her story is one of survival, resilience, faith, and mountains.

“I was diagnosed with Uterine cancer on October 10th, 2017. I was a busy person in my community, so I probably ignored some subtle symptoms a little too long. After three surgeries, I began chemotherapy...

I have three children, a boy who is 27, and a twin boy and twin girl, 23. I feel that I became closer to all of them, and saw more of what I mean to them as a mom. Just after I was diagnosed, one of my children went through a tough time, so not only was I dealing with my illness, I was trying to support my child. Cancer took the back burner for several months. In a way this was a blessing as the focus was taken from my problems. We became much stronger and closer and I am happy to say that all ended up well.

I think I was so preoccupied with my kids and getting them through everything, and being strong and insisting that I work through it all, that when things settled down into more of a routine, I finally broke down emotionally while I was at work one day. It was like a gate opened and it all came tumbling out. I never really had cried about myself until then and it was almost 5 months after my initial diagnosis. After that, I couldn't stop crying. It was crazy. There were times when I experienced great pain, and to this day it is at times difficult to recall that pain without getting very upset and panicky.

I realized that this was not my fight to fight alone, and that fear misled me and caused my doubts. I had my family, my determination, my friends in my small community, and I had God. I just needed to quit taking my burden away from Him. He could carry it for me. I came to know that prayer works and there was no one that could tell me otherwise.

Each day takes me farther and farther from that day that I first heard that word "cancer”. I do have a little anxiety before blood tests and scans, but not too bad. Cancer is like a ghost though, it lurks around every dark corner should you find yourself going there. I get a bit of what they call scanxiety before appointments, though I told myself I was never going to, but I do. I wait for the next diagnosis at times, it's just something that haunts me no matter what I tell myself, but just carrying on in this life I love is what I want to do.”

Susan says that writing has helped her to cope with her trials. This is an area she is very talented and her writings are a thing of true beauty.  She has been blessed with the gift of eloquence, and in this, she is destined to help many people not only suffering from illness or hair loss, but all trials and tribulations.

“I frequently write about some of my reflections and about my faith which helped to bring me through this experience. Here is what I wrote on the eve of the new year:

‘Looking back on 2018, I must look to 2017 first to fully realize what an amazing year this has been. 2017 blindsided me from many directions, and I recall waking up in 2018 with a heart, mind and body full of pain, worry, and sorrow for my family, hitting the new year with my eyes closed, head bowed, and on my knees. However, with faith, love and great hope we rise don't we, from the depths of wherever we have fallen, we are helped up by determination and by those angels among us. Angels who run into the fire with us, brilliant minds struggling to heal us, superheroes who wear their capes under their clothing, most not realizing just how big, what they thought was little, really was. Don't ever underestimate the power of a word, a hug, a tear, a minute of your time. What 2017 tried to tear down, 2018 has rebuilt, and if I had to give a short description of what the last 365 days have brought to us here, I would use three words - healing, blessings and gratitude. I've always been one to say I have no regrets because everything that has happened in the past has brought me to a wonderful present. A good place. Do we know what the future holds? No, of course not. What we do know is who holds our future, that we will get through whatever we must, that there are always wonderful things ahead. 2019, you will be good. I do not fear you, but rather welcome you with open arms. Bring it on!

Susan opens up about hair loss and the affect it had on her and can have on patients who are already enduring cancer and chemotherapy.

“I was going to be the one to defy medical knowledge and experience and I was not going to lose my hair on the 12th day like my doctor told me. After a week of some hair loss, on the 12th day, the 15th of December, the brick hit me in the face, the hair loss became alarming. It was time to call my hairdresser friend to get it shaved off. My children went with me. It was not a party atmosphere like some say they have. It was tearful. I loved my hair…Some say it's only hair. This is true, and compared to a saved life it is only hair. But hair is a large part of the strength and confidence that one needs to fight this battle of their lives.”

I never go anywhere without my wig, but when I get home and it is just my family, I take it off. I have quite a few so they are all holding up pretty well considering I am usually in a hurry going to work or somewhere and don’t always treat them with kid gloves! My hair is coming back very curly, and a lot more grey than it was before I lost it. Some may see the hair loss as trivial compared to everything else, but it becomes the sign around your neck that tends to broadcast your affliction...“

After 6 rounds of aggressive chemo, 25 rounds of radiation, Susan is currently cancer free for the last 6 months.

Susan and daughter, Rebecca at the Brown Palace in Denver, Co

She has a unique and creative way of continuing her journey and notes the importance of moving forward and enjoying her job, family and experiences.

“Experiences became more important than things. There are things I want to work towards. I've never been at 14,000 feet so my son and I will climb a mountain this summer. I have a lot of getting in shape to do! I'm not even sure why that is important to me, but it is…”

She has decided on either Mt Bierstadt or Gray's/Torrey's Peak in Colorado.

“They are both over 14,000 feet but are considered beginners mountains. We just had a big snow here and it is cold so I don’t get outside much to hike, but I have an indoor bike and plan on seriously training in the spring. Because of the weather, sometimes it is hard to get into some of the mountains in the spring or early summer, so I am planning on July. I never had the urge to do this before, although living in Colorado I see the front range of the Rockies every day. I think it just comes down to doing something I have never done and being able to say that just because I was sick once, I am not anymore and I don’t want to sit back and act like someone who was Ill. I believe that we all have mountains to climb at one time or another in our lives. Cancer was one of my mountains, so maybe in my mind since I know that I made it to the top of one mountain, I could certainly make it up another. I think it is just a personal thing that maybe those who climb mountains made of soil and stone every weekend don’t realize what doing so can be to the person on the trail next to them. No one's mountain is ever the same as someone else's

Fear tried to take over my life, but Faith conquers fear. I came to know that the pain I felt would soon be gone and I was carried through it by my God, my family, and the brilliant medical profession that is in a constant fight against the many ways that cancer manifests itself in our bodies.”