When Susan Shine was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2019 the former Mater team member knew the only place she wanted to be treated was Mater Hospital due to it’s outstanding clinical reputation.
Susan has had a tough journey undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and finally a double mastectomy due to the fact the cancer had spread to her lymphatic system and while she says she is not out of the woods yet she feels better than she has in years.
“I have tried to keep myself as fit and healthy as possible throughout my treatment and I think this has been beneficial to my recovery, I am a runner and I continued to run throughout my treatment only pausing for a short period during my chemotherapy and after surgery,” Susan said.
“I was apprehensive to do radiation therapy, I was using Dr Google too much and trying to find ways around this, I am so glad I went ahead with the radiation. When you are in such a scary place with your health it’s easy to try and find alternative solutions.
“To anyone feeling the same way I would tell them to have faith in their health care team and trust your doctors. There is so much misinformation out there and it’s easy to fall into a trap of reading too much online.”
Susan said while undergoing treatment it’s important to keep a positive mindset as there are hard days and chemotherapy can be brutal.
“I was not prepared in anyway for what chemotherapy would be like, I have a friend who is a nurse and she helped to prepare me for chemotherapy with a hamper full of products. I had no idea what they were for before I started chemotherapy, but they came in very handy during treatment,” Susan said.
“I would recommend anyone in a similar situation to stock up on alcohol free mouth wash, mouth spray, eye drops & a very good moisturiser as your face feels like it’s drying up really quickly. I also loved having ice blocks during my treatment which would help my mouth feel better.
“When I was having chemotherapy, I would be alright for the first 30 minutes then it would just hit me. During my chemotherapy journey apart from feeling very fatigued & sick, I'd say that losing my hair was the hardest thing to have to deal with."
While undergoing treatment for breast cancer Susan also continued to work in her food services role while in the midst of a pandemic.
“Fortunately, my boss was very careful with people coming in to our kitchen as he knew I was immunocompromised, due to that I think it kept us all safe,” Susan said.
“The pandemic didn’t stress me out as much as I thought it would, in some respects it was quite good as there was less traffic on the roads and I could make it to my treatment faster.”
Reflecting on her journey Susan says she is extremely grateful to her husband Les who has been incredibly supportive throughout her treatment and always by her side.
“I was always a very family orientated person, we have five children and four grandchildren who keep us on our toes, this experience has given me the push I needed to have a greater work/life balance,” Susan said.
“I have been cared for by an amazing team here at Mater from my surgeon Dr Emma Clarkson to the fantastic breast care nurses, I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive environment.
“For now, she is looking forward to spending more quality Nanny time with her grandchildren, playing netball, going to Rugby games and travelling with her husband.”