Susan Dupree
I am Susan Dupree.  I have survived Triple Negative Breast Cancer for the past two years.  In April 2007, I found a lump in my left breast.  I procrastinated until July 2007 before going to see my plastic surgeon, Dr. Marc Wetherington.  What was the rush, I just had my yearly mammogram in March and everything was normal. But I went to see him and it was discovered that I had a cyst in the left breast that needed to be removed. Boy!  Was I surprised when I awoke from surgery on August 13, 2007, and was told I had breast cancer. Took my breath away, and left me speechless, and if you know me this is hard to do. I'm never speechless.  I do love to talk.
   I was referred to Dr. Clarence McKemie, a wonderful surgeon, and it was decided that I needed to have surgery again to get some clear margins from around where the tumor had been.  Some lymph nodes were removed also to see if the cancer had spread any further.  On August 20, 2007, I arrived at Redmond Medical Center to have this procedure.  This surgery would consist of removal of the breast implant, removal of nine lymph nodes, and to get the clear margins.
  With these finding I must undergo a bone scan, chest x-ray and ultra sound of the liver and lower abdomen.  This was to check and see if the cancer had spread.  Thank the good Lord it had not. But the findings from the tumor were that I had Grade III Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma that was HER-2 Negative, known as Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

   I was referred to Dr. Melissa Dillmon at the Harbin Clinic Oncology Clinic. She said I would need eight treatments of chemotherapy, the first four would be Cytoxan and Adriamsin and the last four would be Taxol. But, before beginning any treatments there was something I had to do. I was going to cut my waist length hair and donate it to Locks of Love, so that some little girl could have hair. I called Judy, my beautician and told her what I had in mind.  While she cut my hair, we both cried. She knew how I felt about my hair. When I returned home, my husband had save his head just like he had said he would before I left to get mine cut. I told him he should have waited because by the time mine came out his would be grown back. He said “so, I will shave it again, it’s just hair.”
     October 1, 2007, I went for the first of four treatments of Cytoxan and Adriamysin, known as “Big Red.” This treatment would take four hours to infuse and I would have a treatment every two weeks. I continued to work at Redmond Regional Medical Center in the lab during this time. I would take a treatment one week and work the next. By the second treatment, my hair had begun to fall out and my nails had begun to come off. But, I was still alive and had not lost my fighting spirit. My nurse navigator, Ann Hook, called everyday and would talk or cry with me depending on the mood of the day. My husband was always there for me at every treatment and for anything else I needed.
     November 27, 2007, I got to meet “Mr. Taxol”, boy I thought that “Big Red” was bad; he was nothing like Mr. Taxol. About seven days after my first treatment of Taxol, I became very sick and had to be hospitalized for eight days for pneumonia. I suffer from COPD, so the drugs used to treat the cancer had killed off the good bacteria in my lungs and the emphysema had taken over. After many chest ex-rays it was discovered I had Fibrosis in the lower lobes of my lungs and the top were full of emphysema. Dr. Bruce Suckling, my pulmonary specialist, informed me of these findings and told me and my husband that I should go home and get my affairs in order as I might have one year to live. On December 13, 2007, I came home on five liters of oxygen twenty-fours a day and three inhalers to use twice a day and prednisone to help heal my lungs.
   It being so close to Christmas, my husband, Bobby, and I decided not to tell anyone of my dire situation until after the holidays. However, he must return to work and I was unable to stay by myself, so we must tell our families. His sister and mom, my mom and niece, took turns staying with me while he worked.  
    But wait, I’m only 52 years young and not ready to give up, or leave this world. I’ve got a lot of things that I still want to do. So, I started going to the park walking with my oxygen on my back and good thoughts in my head. Within six months, I had decreased my oxygen from five liters to three liters and my inhalers from three to just one emergency inhaler and was off the prednisone.   Today I’m completely off the oxygen and only have the one inhaler for emergencies.
   Now, I walk every day, take my vitamins and try to eat right and stay as healthy as I possibly can. I praise the Lord for everything He has done for me and given me. I no longer work, but I’m a member of the Steel Magnolias breast cancer support group in Anniston, Alabama, the Boston Buddies breast cancer support group in Rome, Georgia and I volunteer one day a week at the new breast cancer center at Floyd Medical Center. I hope one day that I will be able to be an advocate for breast cancer and that I will be able to help someone that is fighting this disease.
   I remain cancer free, my hair has come back, and just as curly as it was before chemotherapy and my nails have grown back. I try to deep a positive attitude and pray that I never have to go through this again. But if I do, I know that the Lord will take care of me. My advice to everyone is to get to know your body and when you find something that’s not right, get yourself to the doctor and have it checked out. Don’t do like I did and wait three months before having it checked. I might not have had to take chemo had I not procrastinated as long as I did.
   I still go see my friends at Redmond Regional and still stay in touch with Wendy, my surgeon’s clinical assistant. I hope by telling my story, it will help someone get through the rough times that are a part of being a breast cancer survivor. I hope one day I can be a nurse navigator like Ann Hook and Janice Hopkins and help someone like they helped me.
I am proud to say I am a Breast Cancer Survivor.