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Strong Breast Cancer Survivor

When insurance and a loved one let her down, Suzanne had to rely on her own strength to carry her through

As part of our series from the Amoena Life magazine: Suzanne had a bilateral mastectomy in 2000/2001. Her life changed radically afterwards.

 

Being a strong breast cancer survivor doesn’t stop Suzanne from realizing she is one of the lucky women, as far as medical coverage is concerned—her surgeries and treatments were covered under her employment-based health insurance with a well-known U.S. insurance company.

 

But her journey was full of healthcare delivery problems. “I vaguely remember receiving a [post-mammogram] phone call saying, ‘Something suspicious, but not cancer,’” she says. In fact, Suzanne got that message twice more, but after several additional tests, a surgeon she had never seen before asked her abruptly, “What are we going to do about your breast cancer?”

 

To say she was shocked is an understatement.

 

In retrospect, Suzanne wishes that she’d been given better information and the compassion she knows she deserved at a difficult time. This fast-paced, impersonal care is one of the common complaints about U.S. healthcare; as a prime example, when she asked her insurance company about support groups in her area, they suggested that she start her own! She also says that her recovery time in the hospital was too short — she felt “pushed out the door.” It seemed that being a strong breast cancer survivor was the only option for her to choose.

 

Like many women, Suzanne’s journey included heartbreak, depression and ultimately, newfound strength: she left her unsupportive husband, lost more than 100 pounds and started wearing Amoena Contact adhesive breast forms, which she has loved. Despite 12 years of saying “no more” to hospitals and surgeries, Suzanne then made a second attempt at reconstruction.

 

We are not always given a life that we desire, and sometimes we have to change in order to accommodate. Becoming strong after breast cancer can serve as an inspiration for others, for those looking for a role model to draw their own strength from. Suzanne shows us what it is to be strong by overcoming her personal challenges and sharing her story. Through it all, she also learned the importance of being a reliable support person for others. Despite the difficulties she had to endure, she knows that this newfound strength, whether she would have chosen it or not, was earned, and it will carry her onwards.