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Cancer survivor month 2021

Written By Joedene


“Positive and grateful for each new day”: Mrs Suzette Tanner

Suffering from severe pain in my shoulder, arm and upper back I went to see a Neurologist in November 2006. After the usual examination I had to go for an MRI to ascertain what the cause was. I firmly believed that my neck would be the cause of my discomfort.

Back now after the scan I was waiting for the Neurosurgeon to advise me about the outcome. He informed me that there was nothing he could do to assist me as I had a large Tumour in the lobe of my left lung and referred me to a Cardiologist and Oncologist.

I felt like he was talking to someone else it could not be me. I was sitting there in total disbelief and shock.  Still feeling as if I was dreaming all of this, I saw the Oncologist who confirmed the diagnosis I had Lung Cancer and explained that it was at an advanced stage.  Everything would depend on how I reacted to the treatment. I would need 6 sessions of two types of chemotherapy which would be administered every Monday and from the Chemo room I would go straight to the Radiation department for the next 6 weeks.

I was really frightened and devastated by the thoughts of death, worrying about my family, and loved ones and found myself crying for a few days until I realised that I could not and would not let this “thing” as I then called it get the better of me. My fight then began. With every treatment I would tell this “Thing” that it did not belong in my body and must shrink because my body belonged to My Saviour.

To assist me in my fight I had a wonderful support structure from my loved ones as well as the Nursing Staff of the Chemo and Radiation departments which motivated me and strengthened me in my fight. They were my earthly Angels in white coats. They explained that there could be side affects which would vary from patient to patient. I was fortunate and only experienced levels of nausea which did not last long after each chemo session.

After completing my treatment, I had to rest (take a break) for a month before I had to go for a Pet Scan to determine what the result of the treatment was. This was done in February 2007 and a day after my scan my Oncologist phoned me to tell me that the results were incredible. The tumour had had disappeared and all that was left was a soft pulpy mass that would have to be removed surgically. The Cardiologist then referred me to a Pulmonologist to test my lungs to see if it was strong enough to allow the removal of the upper left lobe of my lung. I was overwhelmed to hear that they could proceed with the operation, and it was removed. When the pathology results came back it was amazing and confirmed that there was no trace of cancer in the tests that were done. At that moment I realized that the Grace of God was indescribable and awesome. He gave the Doctors the talent to help heal us!!

Then in May 2015 another unexpected shock hit me. I went for a routine mammogram examination to be told that I had lump in my right breast and that they would do a biopsy which subsequently came back positive. The tests that were done confirmed that it was a stage 1 breast cancer, but further tests revealed that it was an aggressive tumour.  My reaction to this new evil as I then called it seemed worse to absorb and I felt devastated. I could not understand why I had to go through this a second time it was just not fair.

I had to see a Surgeon who removed the lump in June and then referred me to the Oncologist again. I had in the interim been diagnosed with Ischemic heart decease and had received cardiac stents in 2009 and 2013 which meant that I could not be given Chemotherapy with Herceptin. It was decided that I would only have Radiation. My second fight then began, and I would not allow it to pull me down I fought lung cancer, and this was just another devil to get rid of. I had to receive 31 radiation treatments which was completed on 28 August 2016.

I Started taking Letrozole in September 2016 which I am still taking until next year and still go for my annual check-ups every year.

To be told that you have Cancer will always have different reactions from person to person, but I have learned that no matter what it is normal to go through all the emotions but to stand up, fight it and remain positive and grateful for every new day.