Sue Wallace, Breast Cancer Survivor
“I’m a fighter!”
— Cancer survivor Sue Wallace
Outfitted in full cycling garb, beaming against the backdrop of the pastoral countryside of the Midwest, Sue Wallace doesn’t look like a stereotypical cancer patient. Her wide, bright smile doesn’t reveal the pain and heartache Sue has experienced. That’s because Sue can’t help but project who she really is, despite her disease – a strong woman who sees herself as a survivor every day she continues her fight.
Sue will be the first to admit that she wasn’t always the best patient. The thought of doctors’ offices and hospitals always caused her some anxiety, so, naturally Wallace wasn’t the best at keeping up with her annual check-ups and wellness exams. So when she reluctantly had a mammogram performed at the Columbus Regional Health Breast Health Center she never expected the emotional rollercoaster and rigorous journey that would follow.
“I was always one of those people that this happens to everyone else but me,” Wallace said. “So when they called me right after the test and asked if I could come in and bring my husband, I thought, ‘oh this doesn’t sound good.’”
Sue and her husband, Roger, learned she had Stage 4 breast cancer that had metastasized – meaning the cancer cells had spread to other parts of Sue’s body.
“Well when they told us, I think I was sort of in denial,” Sue said. “This is going to sound weird, but it was sort of like an out-of-body experience. Like I was watching it happen. I wasn’t really torn up about it. The person that was torn up was Roger.”
That fateful day was seven years ago. The Wallace’s certainly experienced the same diagnosis grieving process that many cancer patients feel. They worried about the future. Whether Sue would be able to see her granddaughter graduate and marry. However, Sue professes she’ll never forget what the oncologist said to her early on.
“You don’t know that, he said to me,” Sue recalled. “He was always very positive and encouraging with me.” So from that day the Wallace’s first walked into the Cancer Center at Columbus Regional Health, Sue has been a survivor.
“We’ve just tried to stay positive about it … and believe in the power of prayer,” Sue said. Sue has always been a religious person; however she said her journey with cancer has brought her even closer to God and strengthened her faith.
“It’s out of my hands and it’s up to God,” Sue said. However, there is no question who her no-fail, number-one partner is in the fight – Roger.
“Oh yes,” Sue said with a smile. “He is my rock. Along with being my barista, he is my rock.”
During a recent chemotherapy treatment session in the Cancer Center, Roger delivered a cup of steaming coffee to his wife and the two sat in the treatment bay, sharing laughs as Roger read jokes to her from his smart phone. In the course of her seven-year journey, Sue has also developed a secondary family – the staff at the Cancer Center.
“Well I’ve come to know them all so well,” she said, with a chuckle. “I call them my angels because they are so good to support you and get you through. We cut up and joke. And I even tell them when Roger is going for coffee – ‘Get your orders in.’ But, they are always there for me, to support me. It’s like they feel your pain. You can see it on their faces."
Sue is committed to keeping her cancer only a part of her life and not the ruling factor. An avid cyclist, she eats healthy and stays physically active. Every fall, she and Roger visit Mackinac Island in Michigan and cycle around the island – a tradition they’ve committed to keeping throughout her journey.
“It may take me a little longer, but I try to do everything I’ve always done,” Sue said. “I mean, my goodness, I’m still here so I’ll keep fighting. After all, I’ve been a Wallace for 30-some years now – I’m a fighter!”
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