Just coming out of October and it being Breast Cancer Awareness month, we here at HEMMAG decided that we would hold this story to feature after the month of October ended. Why? You ask. October is a month of sharing knowledge, strength, encouragement and support to those who have faced breast cancer or are currently facing it, as well as their families and friends who are all effected in some way! While we agree wholeheartedly and stand behind the cause and what October represents, we thought it was significant to take pause and embrace the reality that when a person is fighting cancer of any kind it doesn’t just effect them one month of the year, it effects them and everyone who loves them for a lifetime!

Susie’s Story is one that we needed to share not only because of how inspiring it is to us and hopefully to our readers but most importantly, spreading the word of how immensely important early prevention can help save lives. We will also highlight Jill’s Wish with Susie’s Strength as well as Bosom Buddies. These organizations are crucial to learn about if you or a loved one are dealing with cancer.

Susie Byrd is like no one I’ve ever met before. I was leaving Pier 1, walking to my car carrying a long box over my shoulder, oblivious to the world around me and lost in my own thoughts, when suddenly I was jolted back to reality by the sound of a woman’s voice yelling, EXCUSE ME, EXCUSE ME, ma’am. I’m trying to locate where this voice is coming from and determine if it was even directed at me as I swivel around, box haphazardly trying to dislodge from the comfort of my shoulder, I realize that yes, the woman is talking to me and now approaching me with vigor. So, I smile and she quickly apologizes for startling me, which was a bit of an understatement. Miss Susie, just wanted to compliment my then short, sassy new hairdo. She explained that she would love to be able to grow her hair back (after chemo left her with none and her’s was just growing in) into the exact style I had. Little did I know, I’d made a lifelong friend that day. I didn’t see Susie again for some time, but we bumped into each other in the most random of places. And well, if you believe in fate and that sort of thing, I’d say Susie and I were destined to be friends.

Susie Byrd went in for a routine mammogram in November 2014, all of us who know her are thankful that she did because she was later called back into the office to find out that her scan showed abnormalities. Susie wasn’t too concerned since it wasn’t the first time she’d heard that, only to find out that it was fatty tissue, but this time would be different and life changing. What Susie heard… “It’s Cancer” Dr. Myra Henderson, her OB/GYN with Hardin Memorial Health further explained on Dec. 23, 2014 that Susie not only had breast cancer but in the form of the most aggressive and deadliest of cancers, Triple Negative.

 “It’s very aggressive and deadly. That’s probably the only thing I heard her say. She said a lot of other things, but all I heard was aggressive and deadly,” said Susie.

To make matters even worse, Susie’s husband Shelby had been out of work since April of 2014 after a back surgery that left him disabled and unable to work. Susie was at a new job, where she hadn’t built up enough tenure to acquire sick days. The financial burden along with the devastating prognosis that she might not survive this cruel disease started to take it’s toll. Susie and her family were forced to move from Louisville back to Hardin County, where her childhood home would become her families new residence. During those bleak days, she and her son who was home from college stumbled upon a flyer from “Jill’s Wish”, a foundation that helps ease the financial burdens of patients fighting breast cancer. “I went ahead and filled the information out wondering the whole time if this was real and could I be so lucky?” 

Several weeks later, one of Susie’s prayers was answered in the form of a phone call from Jim Sheehey, one of the Co-founder’s of Jill’s Wish, informing her that they were considering her for a $1k grant.

“Needless to say I was ecstatic, a prayer had been answered… we were finally able to get caught up on some bills.”

Susie didn’t give up, she got up and she fought, with a pair of pink boxing gloves as her shield, Susie continued her treatments, underwent 4 surgeries and is now in remission.

With her own desire to help other’s battling cancer, Susie says “I had plan to start my own foundation – triple positive to help others financially, to give hope and resource information.  Instead, I joined forces with Jill’s Wish because we shared the same mission. Now, Jill’s Wish with Susie’s Strength will share resource information and give hope thru a new initiative called Bosom Buddies. Which is about building a support network to help someone battling breast cancer whether it’s going to treatments with them, providing food, childcare assistance or whatever the need is – just being a support can make a difference, giving a person some hope of relief and assurance that they are not alone.”

Susie retired her boxing gloves and presented them to Dr. Lye as a gift and a reminder of all that he did for her and for the other lives that he saves. Early detection DOES save lives!!Get your mammogram today! #savetheboobies