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Susan Ginther

Breast cancer

This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.

View CTCA treatment results for breast cancer

Overview

My story

I have been the guidance department secretary at Bentley High School in Burton, Michigan for 15 years. Working at a high school for so long, I think you can say I’ve had my fair share of stressful first days of the school year. But in August 2002, I had by far my most traumatic first day ever.

I’ll never forget, during my lunch hour that day, I picked up results from a breast biopsy I had. Even though they were sealed in an envelope and I was to bring them directly to my doctor, the anticipation was entirely too much. I opened the envelope to discover I had cancer. By the time I reached my doctor’s office, he could tell from my face that I had already received the bad news.

After several trips to local doctors for second and third opinions, I felt discouraged when none of them seemed to look at the whole body for treatment. They didn't even know anything about vitamins! One of them said, "We don't deal with vitamins!" Then, I heard about Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) from my hairdresser. She happened to be the best friend of Vickie, who had undergone treatment at CTCA. I turned to Vickie for guidance. After talking with her, I felt confident about looking into CTCA because of her positive experiences and encouragement.

I decided to visit CTCA at Midwestern Regional Medical Center in Zion, Illinois for a little look-see. But as soon as I walked in the door, I knew I was in the right place. It was like a piece of heaven. I was welcomed with open arms.

Two days later, I underwent a lumpectomy, which was performed by Dr. Sanchez.

At first, my family was baffled why I would want to travel so far for treatment. We live hundreds of miles away in Davison, Michigan, which is on the eastern side of the state. Nevertheless, my family flew out for my surgery. As soon as they arrived at the hospital, they immediately saw the difference. They were very impressed by how accommodating everyone was.

Following my surgery, I underwent four months of chemotherapy. I traveled by car, plane and train to get to Zion for my treatments, one week each month. I then underwent 40 days of radiation therapy at my hometown hospital because I didn't want to be away from my family for such a long time. However, I really wished I could have stayed at Midwestern for that as well.

During my treatment at Midwestern, even on days when I wasn’t feeling so well, I would take my infusion unit with me and roll down to participate in the classes and activities that were going on for the day. I found that it helped to take my mind off of the cancer and everything I was going through. My favorite was the relaxation class.

My 84-year-old parents came with me to Midwestern for every treatment I received. They would even attend the classes and activities with me. I have special memories of watching them participate in the activities. My incredibly supportive parents wanted to be with me for everything I endured.

The people at Midwestern made a huge impression on me, and they continue to do so today. Seeing all of their familiar faces is wonderful. They keep me coming back. Each year I return with my husband for my checkups.

My message to anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer is to never give up. Hold your head up high, every step of the way. I have received so much of my strength from the Lord. One way I share messages of faith with others fighting cancer is through scrolls I’ve created that list the “ABC’s” of scriptures. They begin with "A...'Abide in me and I will abide in you.'" I hand these out to friends and others who are fighting cancer. Whenever I undergo diagnostic tests, I whisper these scriptures to myself too. They help me to relax.

When I visited Midwestern in June 2007 to commemorate my five-year anniversary as a cancer survivor at a special event called Celebrate Life, I handed my scrolls out to patients who were undergoing chemotherapy.

Celebrate Life was spectacular! And while I have long dreamt of meeting Lance Armstrong, meeting his mom, who spoke at the ceremony, was even better!

Ever since Celebrate Life, I have been walking on sunshine. I start off each day by playing Katrina and the Waves’ “Walking On Sunshine,” which was the theme of the event. And, my new favorite flower is none other than the sunflower. Sunflowers were everywhere at Celebrate Life. What can I say? I am hooked! In fact, on my way home from the event, I stopped in a store and found a scrapbook covered with sunflowers. Ever since then, they’ve filled my life. Students give them to me all of the time. I’ve found all sorts of trinkets and mementos with them on it. But, the best was this summer, when my husband and I discovered an entire field of sunflowers. I stopped to revel in their beauty and pose for what has quickly become my family’s favorite photo (see above).

May 18, 2012

It’s been nearly 10 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I feel very, very blessed to still be here! This month I am retiring from the high school where I’ve worked for 25 years. Each day I wake up and thank the Lord I’m still here, and when I go to bed at night I count my blessings.

Since my cancer treatment, I’ve become a CTCA Cancer Fighter and member of the CTCA Cancer Fighters® Care Net. I talk to patients all over the United States! Several of the patients I’ve spoken with have told me I give them strength, but really I feel they are the ones who have given me strength.

Also memorable, my husband and I celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary, I became a grandma and we bought a retirement home in South Carolina (to be near our new grandchild). We travel to our new home as often as we can. We plan to move there permanently and get away from this Michigan snow in the coming years.

I continue to try to improve my health each year by doing more research on eating better. I have been a vegan for five years. My goals after I retire are to participate in a Danskin Triathlon (bike, swim and walk—not run), continue to volunteer for CTCA and have an organic garden.

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