Susan thanks Icon Southport team for their care and support

Icon Writer / 08 Nov, 2023

For 15 years, the team at Icon Cancer Centre Southport have been delivering world-class cancer care to patients on the Gold Coast and surrounds. People like Susan.

In November 2022, Susan (62) was diagnosed with the most common type of breast cancer, invasive ductal carcinoma.

“Since my first breast screening when I turned 50, I have had continuous screenings and biopsies done due to high levels of density in the breast tissue. The particular area that had a tumour was being closely monitored with ultrasounds, mammograms and biopsies,” says Susan.

“Due to the 11 years of screening and close monitoring where each biopsy was clear and benign, I suppose I was ready for one to be malignant. The lead up to the diagnosis gave me strong hints that this result might be different, so I felt as prepared as I could be.”

With a strong support network around her, Susan was well equipped for the challenges ahead.

“I have family members with medical backgrounds who have been terrific supports before, during and after treatments. In particular, my brother was always guiding me and translating any medical treatments, including any surgeries at the hospital he works in,” says Susan.

“My husband has been by my side through the appointments and treatments and my main helpmate. I have been blessed with so much support from family and friends.”

Susan underwent a lumpectomy, followed by a second surgery to place her port. From December 2022 to June 2023, Susan underwent two rounds of chemotherapy at Icon Cancer Centre Southport under the care of A/Prof Michael Slancar.

Following her chemotherapy treatment, Susan underwent 16 sessions of radiation therapy in July and a laparoscopic hysterectomy in August.

“My brother was always guiding me to the best doctors and A/Prof Michael Slancar was his and my breast surgeon’s first choice for the oncologist. My breast surgeon and screening were also located in the same building as Icon Cancer Centre Southport, so the familiarity was reassuring,” says Susan.

“No matter what treatment or who was supporting me from the Icon team, there is a calm, reassuring and supportive attitude from all staff members. The constant information and attention to detail meant I felt confident to get through whatever challenges arose. When things did become too challenging, their response was immediate, and another option was discussed and agreed. This always felt like a partnership between me and the team. At each chemotherapy session my doctor visited, which was hugely important.”

Susan says her cancer journey has changed her outlook on life.

“Once you have realised how precious life is, it is so hard to stay in the modern world of stressing about the small oddities of daily routines. I have been so grateful for my recovery, the support from my healthcare team and my family and friends. I realise I have also been given a rare gift of taking back any lack of control about my health and life choices. I aim to be as mindful as possible about keeping well. I do this through daily mindfulness practices, keeping active and making significant dietary changes. I also aim to be aware of letting go of stresses and anxiety, which is easy to say but harder to do,” says Susan.

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Susan is also participating in Icon’s Survivorship Pilot Program through the support of Icon Southport’s Cancer Care Co-ordinator, Taia. This program aims to support patients holistically through the transition to life beyond their cancer treatment.

“The survivorship program reassured me about the choices I was already making and is a great reminder about the importance of seeking support. Taia has always been there for me by answering any queries or concerns, no matter how small they are,” says Susan.

“I like to keep myself busy. I mediate and practice qi gong daily, play tennis twice a week, swim in the ocean or our backyard pool and I love reading. I aim to start writing again when my focus improves.”

To mark Icon Southport’s 15th birthday, Susan has a message to share with the team.

“They have been so careful and considerate of my health needs but also of me as a person. I feel strongly that this has always been a partnership. During the first chemotherapy rounds, they were clearly taking the lead and guiding the process, but as my recovery improved, I felt I was able to share the lead and at times take more control over my treatments and decision making. For me, this has been the final step needed to ensure I continue to be proactive in keeping my health and wellbeing as a priority for my next stage of my life,” says Susan.

“I want to say a huge thank you to the Icon Southport team.”

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