Interviews

Breast Cancer Survivor Story: Susan Ingeman

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 Susan is the first in our series and I am honored that such a strong group of women are willing to share their story for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Breast Cancer Survivor Story: Susan Ingeman

I’m a sixty-something year old native Floridian (there actually are some of us), with 3 great children and 2 wonderful grandchildren. Raised in New York, I returned to Florida shortly after my youngest child (Jaci) was born and lived primarily in Stuart, FL. I have over the years had the great fortune of working with some of the finest doctors in South Florida. Through the years, I’ve been very conscientious about scheduling the recommended tests and examinations... a trait which I will always be thankful for.

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 1. How was your cancer discovered and diagnosed? In late November 2009, I went for my yearly mammogram and while there needed a re-take on my right breast and then was asked if I could stay for an ultrasound. A few days later my GYN called to say I needed to follow up with a Breast Specialist – thank heavens I got in with Dr. Vopal!! He performed a needle biopsy and said the tumor was very small but the pathologist said it was malignant. Luckily it was caught early at Stage 1.

2. What was life like during your treatment? We scheduled surgery for January 8, 2010 and needed a 2nd surgery performed on January 29th after the doctor felt not enough of the area was removed. I met with Dr. Griffis, a Radiation Oncologist and since the tumor was small and Stage 1, I would not need chemo. My radiation was scheduled for 5 days a week for 6 ½ weeks, which ended just before Easter…needless to say I had a very “Happy Easter”. Since my breast cancer was estrogen based, I have been prescribed to take “Femera” which keeps my system from making estrogen and makes it 98% positive that I will not have a re-occurrence. I must take it for 5 years, so I have about 2 ½ more years before I am a “Breast Cancer Survivor”!

3. Were you able to stay positive during the tough moments? How did your mindset effect your treatment and recovery? So much of the prep, testing, surgery and radiation was “fear of the unknown”. I’m a very good patient, kept all doctor’s appointments and was only in the hospital 3 times in my life to have children. I stayed fairly upbeat during most, because of positive family and friends, also great faith in 2 great doctors and their fantastic teams! Whenever you have a “blue” day, have a good cry in the shower and move on. A good reason for “up” days for me were 2 wonderful grand children!

4. How have things changed since you were cleared of cancer? As I said previously, I have not been cleared of cancer yet and I only suffer from “Femera” side effects (hot flashes, joint pain, etc.)… all which make me feel like an old lady… "this too shall pass”.

5. What message do you hope to give others battling breast cancer? As with most battles, you take them 1 day, 1 test or event at a time. Have faith in your doctors and teams. We are lucky there have been so many advances. Take advantage and enjoy your good days – you will be getting more and more of them!!