Susan's Story

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SUSAN: Hi, I'm Susan.

Text on screen: Susan

I have a wonderful husband who is my best friend. We've been through a lot together. We’ve been married 30 years. I have three kids and I have a fabulous dog that I love.

I was in a previous life a realtor. I had worked in sales and marketing. So at that point I was diagnosed Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.

My mother had died the month before. We were in the process, we had sold our house literally three days before I was diagnosed. We were moving to Pennsylvania as soon as our kids graduated. And we had a lot going on in our lives and everything just pretty much stopped, to try to figure out, you know, what we were dealing with.

I have had some serious times of isolation. Some emotional, some physical. I don't know anybody, I haven't met anybody who has metastatic breast cancer really, that has not experienced that.

I just think it's the nature of the lives we live. We live in a world of social media, of TV. It's all about how perfect you look and how perfect your life is and what mountain you jumped off of—and I think sometimes I feel most alone when people are talking about experiences or issues that I know may not be for me, like, retirement. And it was, I would sit there and listen, but I would have nothing to say because that's, in my mind that's not for me. And to this day, we don't, we don't think that far ahead because you have to live in the moment.

I want to give myself the best chance. As I always say, I want to live the best life for as long as I can but I want to live well. So I'm always looking for what's coming down the pipeline, and even now as I was just changing treatments, what's going to give me the best quality of life, but also give me the best chance for a long ride on a drug. So, I spend a lot of time looking at clinical trials, looking at different treatment options, talking to different doctors, trying to be as knowledgeable as I can about not only what I have, but what's happening around me.

It's been a challenging road for my whole family, but, um, but I think we do it pretty well, but it works. It's what works for us. I say to them, “I'll tell you when you need to worry, and you don't need to worry right now.” And I will tell them when I've had a good scan, I will tell them when I'm changing treatment. I want them to be free and happy to live their lives, and we focus on that. I know everybody gets frightened when there's a change, but again, we try to really be open and communicate with them. They can ask me anything.

I always tell people, you have to, you have to advocate, and if you're not in a position to advocate for yourself, you have to have someone who's willing to do that for you, which can be very hard. I'm really blessed to have really good, good friends and good relationships. People that love me and support me.

I walk with friends, I'll walk with anybody. I rarely get coffee with people. I almost always say, “Oh, let's just walk.” And then sometimes I like to walk by myself. I'll put my headphones in, or I'll just be with my dog. But it's time to just be, to not have the world at you and not be thinking, thinking, thinking. You can just methodically go.

You can be really happy in some of the small routines of your life and appreciate them, and appreciate being able to do them.

It is life-changing to have friends who speak the language that you don't have to protect from things, that you don't have to be comforting when you say, you know, crummy things. And it's, it's its own language and unfortunately, it's not anything anybody else can understand until you’re in it. And that piece alone I think gives people great comfort.

Text on screen: No matter how you feel, you don’t have to feel alone.

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Susan shares her story

Two years after learning she had breast cancer, Susan was diagnosed with MBC. The realtor was used to negotiating with other agents, so she channeled some of that strategy when it came to her own treatment, looking into clinical trials and embracing therapy to help with her MBC-related anxiety. Now she coaches others and tries to focus on her own emotional well-being.

I want to give myself the best chance. I want to live the best life for as long as I can and I want to live well. So I'm always looking for what's coming down the pipeline.”

— Susan

Need someone to talk to?

Cancer Support Helpline: 1-888-793-9355

CancerCare’s Hopeline: 1-800-813-HOPE (4673)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741

Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) Breast Cancer Helpline: 1-888-753-5222

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