Today, the team at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction is honored to share with you an In Her Words post written by a dear friend, breast cancer survivor and active advocate, and the latest recipient of the Charlene Daughtry Award from Komen Lowcountry, Sue Young. She is an inspiration to all women who are facing breast cancer and proves there is strength in numbers and together we can get through anything.
Read below for our interview with Sue.
1. You are a great advocate and an active volunteer for Susan G. Komen for the Cure Lowcountry. Tell us what you’ve been doing to support women who are experiencing breast cancer or know of someone who is?
I’m a huge advocate of finding out everything you can about your options once you are told you have cancer. Most people, me included, don’t really think about it until it happens to you or someone you care about. I started volunteering with Komen after being diagnosed and reading Nancy Brinker’s book, “Winning the Race – Taking Charge of Breast Cancer”. I was inspired to be a part of their story, their work. Because of my diagnosis and participation, I have met and become friends with a number of people spanning all the facets of cancer. I met doctors, nurses, volunteers, film directors, dragon boaters, comedians, politicians, fund-raisers, hospital and other medical administrators, survivors and co-survivors, and sadly, people that eventually would lose their battle. Having met so many new and diverse people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise, when someone comes to me with questions about cancer, I can tell them what I’ve learned or connect them with people who know much more than that. I may not be able to answer every question, but I know someone who knows. The more you know about what you’ll deal with, the better equipped you are to make it down that “pink ribbon” road. It’s a journey to say the least, and it is so much easier when you don’t have to take the trip alone. I’ve always had a volunteer spirit, it’s nice to be there when someone needs you. My mother taught us by example; she always responded when a “need” was presented. From giving the postman a mayonnaise jar of iced water every day to raising funds to air-condition our elementary school, Mama took action. She’s 81 and still going strong!
2. You are truly an inspiration to women who have been affected by breast cancer! Tell us how you managed to stay positive and embody the selflessness volunteer spirit while undergoing breast cancer treatment. What inspired you to keep moving forward?
I was able to stay positive through my cancer treatments in three ways:
1.) I had an amazing support group. My husband, Tom, was loving, caring, and understanding. He was committed to me and my well-being through it all. My family and friends went the extra mile, supporting my decisions, helping with the special things, and keeping the routine things in order.
2.) I had a super medical team. Everyone, from the doctors to their staff was on their “A-game.” They were educated, they were professional, they were caring, they were patient, they had a plan and they guided me through every step, every phase. I felt like I was their only patient, but I knew they were being everything they were to me to others every day.
3.) Each time I started to sink into a depression, God sent someone into my life that seemed to have a bigger battle than I did. I was reminded on more than a few occasions that I was not alone and that I had the tools to take the next step. There was always someone that didn’t have the support group, didn’t have the medical team, didn’t get the positive answers that I got.
3. You are the 2012 recipient of the Charlene Daughtry Award from Komen Lowcountry. Tell me a little about this award and what it means to you personally.
I saw the first recipient receive the award at my first Komen Survivor Celebration in October, 2005. I’d never met Charlene and she had already lost her battle with cancer. I don’t know that I remember who got it the first couple of years. It didn’t really became personal to me until it was awarded to Lucy Spears. I’d worked with her on a couple of Komen projects. She was a tremendous volunteer with unending energy and drive – still is. Bonnie Hancock received it the next year; I served on a committee with her for several years. Again, selflessness embodied. Gene Glave received the award last year . . . her last Survivor Celebration. The Komen Board chose each of these women because they carry on Charlene Daughtry’s dream, her enthusiasm, her courage. Me? Part of this group? I fear I don’t measure up, but I am honored, and I am humbled to be included. Charlene, the recipients I know, and myself – our common threads? Breast cancer, a desire to share our stories, our experience, and our courage with others. Just like the candle-lighting ceremony at each Survivor Celebration, it’s about igniting your own light and passing it on to others.
4. What is the one thing you want all women to know about breast cancer?
Look for it! Catch it early! Deal with it! Do not ignore it! Know you are not alone. There’s help every step of the way.
5. You have achieved so much and given back since being diagnosed with cancer. What is next for you in life?
We’re still a few years from retirement, but that’s the next big thing. Tom and I want to travel. We’ve been to some wonderful places already: Jamaica, Hawaii, Barbados. We want to take some longer trips to see more of America up-close. Of course, we’ll be planning those around small trips to Rock Hill to see my sister’s growing family. Her third grandchild is due in March. I want to make sure Kaylee (2-1/2), Wyatt (3 months) and G-baby #3 know they have great-grandparents and a great-aunt and great-uncle in Charleston. I’m sure I’ll still find time for Komen. Wouldn’t it be nice if Kaylee didn’t have to worry about breast cancer?