In 1996 when Susan Cacioppo was just 32-years-old, she found a lump in her breast through self-detection. "My doctor told me not to worry. I was young, had no known family history of breast cancer and my mammogram came back clear too."
Yet there was still a palpable lump; the same lump that was later biopsied, the same one that turned out to be breast cancer. "I was in shock. I remember being so overwhelmed scheduling doctors' appointments and surgeries. At one point it felt as if it wasn't even real, as if I was in a movie watching this happen to someone else."
Susan was put on an aggressive and experimental course of action, one that caused her to be hospitalized for more than half of her treatments. Letting cancer win was just not an option, "I thought of my one-and- a-half-year-old son at the time and I fought hard. The thought of not being there for him was just not something I considered."
Nineteen years later, Susan is truly a survivor. That one-and-a-half-year-old boy, now twenty graduates from college in May and her second son, the one she calls her post-cancer baby, is fourteen. She says she feels extremely fortunate to be surrounded by so much support, especially from her loving husband and family.
Now she's paying it forward volunteering through the Adelphi Breast Cancer Hotline. She talks to other women about getting pregnant post-breast cancer and shares her story of survival. "There does come a day after having breast cancer when you don't think about it all the time, and you realize that life goes on...and somehow it's even better than before!"