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Susan, Breast Cancer Survivor
TWO-TIME cancer survivor!!!
My name is Susan Ingmire and I have a story to tell, not much different, I’m sure, from many others. But maybe the way I handled the ‘bump’ in my road of life will be helpful to others. At the age of 37, I was suddenly confronted with a diagnosis of colon cancer. My children were 9 and 11 years of age, my career as a Pediatric Physical Therapist was going full swing, and my husband was a leader in his company. I was NOT ready to call it quits, didn’t want my kids to see me in pain or afraid, so with a smile on my face (tears on my pillow at night with my husband’s arms around me), I had major surgery followed by 6 weeks of radiation therapy (25 years ago, there were no tried and true treatments for colon cancer, so with the vanity of not wanting to lose my hair, I chose radiation from the multiple options given to me). Receiving radiation to my full abdominal area, I was thrown into early menopause with all it’s glorious symptoms and treated with hormone replacement therapy which was then thought to be the way to safely minimize the symptoms and even believed to reduce the risk of developing future breast cancer. For 13+ years I remained on HRT until the age of 50 at which time I would have gone through menopause naturally. All was good!
Our children had progressed through high school and college, found the loves of their lives, started their careers and their families, and my husband and I retired to begin the next stage of our lives. But it seems there was another ‘bump’ for me to handle. In late 2009, after my yearly mammogram (and I am a faithful follower!), I was diagnosed with Stage 0 Right breast cancer (known as DCIS or ductus carcinoma in situ). Shock, yes, and more tears on my pillow, but found early and oh so treatable with lumpectomy and radiation therapy. However, even the best physicians in the world (and I believe I had them!) couldn’t keep me on this manageable path to recovery. The belief is that my previous radiation 23 years ago, combined with the extensive HRT was the cause of my breast cancer. I could NOT have radiation to my Right breast since that area had received its maximum amount previously. The recommendation was for a Right mastectomy. Certainly brief feelings of “Why me again?” popped into my psyche. With the love and support of my family, we just had to face it head on. And we did! Mastectomy, tissue expander, silicone implant…..a full year of ‘getting back to normal’, and my life now continues on its wonderful path.
I guess that my philosophy is basic…..You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I have a strong marriage entering its 40th year, 2 great kids and their spouses, 4 perfect (of course!) grandchildren and an active life of volunteering….yes....at the Radiation/Oncology Center of my area hospital. My hope is that my positive attitude can be helpful to so many others going through the scare of cancer. I live life with love and with laughter and I highly recommend it! Life throws things at you, but life is good.