Susan Dickman was told to a greater extent than than i time that aggressive cytoreductive surgery, which could lastly upward to 12 hours, powerfulness live also risky for her historic current together with stage of disease.
They advised her to possess got a to a greater extent than palliative, quality-of-life approach to the grim diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare together with aggressive cancer related to asbestos.
She refused to listen. And slammed the door.
Susan volition celebrate her 80th birthday on Sept. 2, to a greater extent than than 7 years after undergoing the hard mesothelioma surgical physical care for that has given her novel life, together with a adventure to inspire others alongside her determination.
“I had a potent volition to live. And yet do,” she said from her dwelling inward North Carolina. “When nosotros were looking at our options, I had a MD say, ‘If it was me, I wouldn’t move through the surgery. It’s also much.’ And correct after, nosotros had some other MD tell he yet wouldn’t possess got done it.”
Susan has proven them all wrong.
Life today comes alongside no restrictions — together with no sign of tumor recurrence.
Living Life to the Fullest
She is packing boxes for her deed inward Oct to a novel home. She walks daily. She plays croquet at the local club. She does yoga. She plant out at a gym.
And she sings the praises of Wake Forest Medical Center specialist Dr. Edward Levine, who performed the extensive surgical physical care for when others would not.
“Even he told me, he unremarkably doesn’t create this sort of performance beyond historic current 70. (She was 72 at the time),” Susan said. “But I told him I was younger than my years. And he agreed.”
She prepared for the surgical physical care for inward June 2012 past times edifice her stamina alongside aerobic workouts together with weights. She consulted a cardiologist who guaranteed her meat could withstand it.
The 11-hour surgical physical care for removed cancerous increment from multiple sites throughout her abdominal cavity. Levine removed her spleen, gall bladder, appendix, omentum, reproductive organs together with parts of her liver.
That aggressive treatment was right away followed past times hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), a heated solution circulated throughout the abdomen for ninety minutes that kills whatever cancer cells inward the abdominal cavity.
“The surgical physical care for is barbaric when you lot think virtually it,” Susan said. “How the trunk recovers from all that, I don’t know. He told me before that I’d wake upward together with experience similar I’d been run over past times a truck. And he was right. It’s a tough recovery.”
Difficult Recovery Was Worth It
She spent vi days inward the infirmary together with some other calendar week roughly the infirmary for regular check-ins. The four-hour stimulate dwelling afterward that calendar month felt similar iv days. It took almost a twelvemonth before she felt mentally together with physically whole again.
“I was loopy for almost a year, really forgetful. My encephalon wasn’t abrupt together with that scared me,” Susan said. “But the whole fourth dimension I felt similar I was going to trounce this, together with that I but wasn’t create to die. I’m a survivor, together with hopefully, I proceed to live one.”
At first, she returned to run across Levine every 3 months, hence every vi months, together with hence every year. He has at nowadays moved dorsum the checkups to every 2 years.
“I won’t run across him i time to a greater extent than until 2020. In a way, it’s similar losing your anchor, a footling scary,” Susan said. “I don’t know if that agency I’m out of the woods. I don’t ask. Every fourth dimension he sees me, though, he smiles together with says, ‘What a beautiful scar you lot have.’ He also told me I would live a actually onetime adult woman before I die.”
Survivor Credits Support together with Prayer
Beyond Levine, Susan gives credit to multiple sources for her postsurgery comeback, together with her powerfulness to trounce the odds together with teach an inspirational, long-term mesothelioma survivor.
Her husband, Wes Dickman, became her full-time caregiver through much of the commencement postsurgery year. He never wavered.
A back upward grouping of unopen friends together with household unit of measurement made certain Susan had everything she could mayhap need, providing emotional together with physical help.
So many neighbors were bringing dinner together with offering encouragement each solar daytime that Wes finally sent a text to everyone, bespeak for the nutrient delivery to stop. He was eating manner also much to avoid wasting food.
Susan had no postsurgery appetite, dropping to a risky 88 pounds. Unplanned weight loss after surgical physical care for tin complicate recovery.
He also posted a “No Visitors” sign on the forepart door when Susan became overwhelmed past times all the well-wishers. They express mirth virtually that now.
The powerfulness of prayer became invaluable, too.
“I had hundreds of people praying for me,” she said. “Believe me, prayer does work. There is no dubiety virtually that. Even if you’re an atheist, I’d suggest every patient to observe a prayer group. Prayer, together with a smashing surgeon, tin move wonders.”
Strong Enough to Become Husband’s Caregiver
Also proving invaluable was Sugar, the couple’s loyal golden retriever, who rarely left her side inward those commencement vi months. Sugar provided the silent, emotional back upward that Susan needed.
“Sugar was incredible, next me everywhere. She made me believe inward therapy dogs,” she said. “I may live nuts, but I think animals tin convey you lot lots of comfort when you lot demand it.”
She became her normal, high-energy self after that commencement postsurgery year. She fifty-fifty became her husband’s caregiver for much of 2018 when he waged his ain battle alongside lymphoma, which severely tested the household unit of measurement again.
He, too, is a survivor today.
They volition celebrate her 80th birthday throughout Labor Day weekend. Sons Mike together with Chris, who alive inward South Florida together with Buffalo, New York, respectively, volition live bringing their families for the occasion.
Her sis together with her children, along alongside several unopen household unit of measurement friends, volition also live at that topographic point to sing happy birthday for 3 consecutive days.
“I experience lucky, blessed together with fortunate to live hither today,” Susan said. “We’re going to actually celebrate this i all weekend, but my destination is yet to teach inward to 90.”
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