On World Cancer Day, hear from Suzanne.
“I’m a great believer in positivity and how amazing people around you can be,” says Suzanne Graesser who is living with cancer.
Suzanne, who lives in a Worcestershire village, is in her mid-forties and was first diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. She had chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy treatments but was told she had secondary cancer in her pelvis just months later.
“At first I was in shock and it felt as if I was in a film, but then I realised it was actually about me”, she said.
Suzanne was introduced to Sue Sharpe, a Secondary Breast Cancer Nurse who is employed by St Richard’s Hospice to work in partnership with Worcestershire Royal Hospital. Sue is a specialist nurse who helps guide people through the complex journey of treatments and emotions after diagnosis.
“Sue’s been fantastic,” said Suzanne. “I was going downhill quite rapidly and struggling to walk initially so Sue suggested I see the St Richard’s physiotherapists to help get my mobility back. I’ve been coming to adapted tai chi sessions and been given exercises to do which really help, particularly with relaxation.
“When I walk out of a tai chi session with St Richard’s I feel nice and relaxed and have learned techniques and exercises which are useful and the right level for me. “
Suzanne, who is now semi-retired from the IT consultancy and support business her husband established, added, “I knew a little about hospices but I hadn’t expected that they offer quite so much. I thought it was much more about immediate care.”
Suzanne is among people who are attending free Living Well courses run by the St Richard’s team, helping individuals to learn new skills and techniques through education, exercise, therapies and group support.
Having cancer in her forties was something Suzanne had never thought about but says she soon realised there are many more people in her age range and younger living with the illness.
“So many people have experienced cancer themselves or with family and friends. My support network has been fantastic. As well as my family and friends, other people are amazing and have been very kind offering help, or a listening ear, giving me the strength I need. I’ve been very grateful to all of them.”
Suzanne, who has a 13 year old son, says the consultants cannot give her a time frame as it depends on each individual and how you respond to treatment.
Her advice to anyone diagnosed with cancer is, “Accept support from friends and family and I’m a great believer in staying positive.”