October 30, 2020

Pink Shoe Diaries-A Photo Interview with Susie

Posted in: Pink Shoe Diaries

Our final day of perusing the pink shoe diaries leads us to Miss Susie, a wife and mother of 8 with a passion for her social work career, where she encourages individuals, connects them to resources and impacts the community. She sees this as a way to offer people hope to see past their current circumstances and to help them find their inner strength. As you read her story, you will agree that strength is something Susie has a lot of; in fact, it’s the basis for one of her life’s missions.

Susie lives by the philosophy of embracing each moment, each day, and each other, but she says it best.

“Everyday I strive to be present and show gratitude for the many blessings all around me.”

Tell us about your journey with breast cancer.

On December 23, 2014, while everyone else was planning for Christmas fun and festivities with their family and friends, I was planning for chemo treatment, bilateral mastectomy and deciding if I wanted reconstructive surgery. I was given a terrifying diagnoses… triple negative breast cancer (the worst of all breast cancers).  Things were surreal for a while. I couldn’t shut my mind down; I would continuously think, “I have breast cancer, wow!” After the initial shock wore off, I began to get into fight mode. I had three children that needed me and I had to fight this thing with all my soul, mind and might. Using my social work experience advocating for children and families, I knew I had to go on a quest to save my own life! I would go to chemo sessions with pink boxing gloves on. I started researching like crazy, trying to find out as much as I could about this ugly disease called triple negative breast cancer. Black women are more likely than white women to get triple-negative breast cancer, it the most deadly and aggressive of all breast cancers. On a positive note, late recurrence (after 5 years) is less common with triple-negative tumors.

To God Be the Glory I am FIVE YEARS cancer free!

What did you learn about yourself, others, and the world throughout this journey?

Life is not always a bed of roses; we all have a bitter cup that we must drink from at some point. Whether it’s due to sickness, loss of job, divorce etc. It’s about enduring and getting through it and then sharing the experience to help others. I also learned just because the treatment portion of the journey is over, it’s not completely over; there’s the residue of the emotional, physical and psychological damage left to address. My body often aches, I became very forgetful (chemo brain), people don’t always understand. I used to always be concerned about a reoccurrence to the point that it consumed me to thinking every ache and pain was a sign that cancer was back. One day, a friend treated me to dinner for my birthday; she began to pray over me there at the table asking God to heal not only my body but also my mind. Immediately, something lifted (I felt lighter) and I’ve not been consumed with cancer coming back since that day. I now live embracing each moment, each day and each other. I know that we are not here to live forever so I’ve vowed to start living and not fear the inevitable.

I have been given the privilege of life; it’s my responsibility to help lift others that are struggling with this diagnosis.

What advice would you give to someone recently diagnosed with breast cancer?

  • Breast Cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. NEVER lose hope! You WILL walk across that line!” Philippians 4:13 — ‘You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you’
  • Pray and meditate daily.
  • Knowledge is power: Do your research, get educated and make the necessary lifestyle changes, especially when it comes to nutrition. There are many holistic options to consider as well.
  • Build your village, surround yourself with people that are supportive & make you smile
  • “Embrace the survival stories of others who have traveled this path before you. Lean on their experiences, discover hope in their healing. Know that you are not alone and you never will be.
  • Be kind to yourself!

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers?

Check out Susie’s Strength  for resource information. Also join me in my weight-loss journey, your participation and inspiration is truly welcomed.

For more information about stories of surviving and thriving you can order my book U Can Survive & Thrive

written with co-Author, LaToya Jackson.

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Louisville, Ky Portrait  Photographer