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Faces of Blue: Susan Rodger

By March 28, 2016Faces of Blue
Susan 600-300

For almost two years, I had light blood in my stools, some cramping, but I figured it was IBS. Then, two weeks after my 40th birthday, I was at the ER with severe abdominal cramps. For 40 years, I was one healthy girl. Never had kids, never spent the night in a hospital (excluding obviously when I was a baby). After an X-Ray and CT Scan, the ER doctor told me I had a mass blocking my colon (why I couldn’t poop). It was either a possible bacteria infection or the C word, cancer. My mom, who was sitting next to me after spending that Sunday working two jobs looking like the doctor had just slapped her across her face (I remember said look when my father told me he had prostate cancer 10 years ago). A biopsy on the mass confirmed as well as a PET scan that I was stage IV-A.

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Now my mom was in a total panic because when you google stage IV, it says there is a 10% survival rate. But, I had one very positive oncologist. He knew I had spent the last four years working out, eating healthy (I went from 150 at age 36 to 110 at age 39). He explained IV-A meant that my cancer had spread to other lymph nodes, but not to any other organs. I was a lawyer promoted to the position in my office that I had always wanted. And, thankfully, as a State Employee, I had GREAT insurance. I had to have surgery to remove the mass. Then I was told I’d have more surgery for the life port and then six months of chemo.

The week before Easter, my life port was put in. Won’t lie, that night, it felt like I had a gun shot wound (not that I know what that feels like, but it hurt and my only comfort was putting my arm in a sling). Then two days later, I started running a fever. Fever broke just before Easter. Chemo started the day after Easter. Now, this girl, she stayed positive through it all. I worked at my office around my chemo schedule. My oncologist knew my court schedule, and I never missed it. My sister came down with my maternal grandmother during that first month. My grandmother, voted to return home early. First tragedy hit after my first month, my paternal grandfather at the age of 99 died. I refused to miss the funeral, so I flew up to Pittsburgh with my sister. I took every precaution and never got sick. Summer was spent enjoying Netflix instead of the pool and beach. My sister returned again in July with my niece and nephew. My father also came down a few times to help out. Again, I stayed positive. I had fallen in image1love with ballroom dancing and had added that to my work out back when I was 38. Did I let cancer keep me from dancing? HECK NO!!! One advice to all, try and do some physical activity on days when you feel good. I did dance lessons in May, June, and July. I took a break in August and then went back in September. Chemo ended at the end of September but I was still not cancer free. One pesky infected lymph node remained. So, next up, radiation treatment. Oh, and I had family tragedy #2, my 93 year old maternal grandmother died during Labor Day Weekend. Thanks God, I have had my trifecta for 2015. But, I stayed positive. I knew my grandmother, before her mind started to go, had been cheering for me to beat my cancer.

So, radiation started in November. Last treatment was three days ago. I am also on low dose chemo maintenance medication. Next PET scan should be around my 41st birthday. I will stay positive through 2016. I will continue to dance (currently working on a tango routine). I am so glad to be returning to full 40-hour work weeks. I won’t lie, chemo is not fun, but I think my dancing and walking actually meant I was less tired (I had one day of rest, others told me they would rest 2-3 days). The hardest part of all of this was being told that chances are, I will never be able to have kids. Ironically, I was already accepting this as a possibility when I turned 40. But, I work with kids. I have a great niece and nephew that I can spoil for all times. I have friend with kids who are like more nieces and nephews to me. And, now I can spend money on me (no offense, kids are mighty expensive). I can travel. I mean, I may have cancer, but I have a long life to live and you bet I will live it. I will continue to dance, to work out (seriously can’t wait until my body starts to return to normal). I did not lose all of my hair, and it has been starting to return. I have a great dog, and will have more dogs in my life as my “kids.” My advice to all, stay positive!! Live life!!

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