Name: Suzanne Horvath
Occupation: Educator/Administrator in public education
Age when diagnosed with breast cancer: 47
Breast cancer type: HER2+
Breast cancer stage: Stage 4 – MBC
Treatment: For MBC patients, treatment is ongoing for the rest of our lives. This is my most current treatment, which will continue until I have progression again: Docetaxol – 10 rounds; Herceptin and Perjeta IV treatments – continuing – 55th treatment to date; Anastrozolee; and Edoxaban
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that has nothing to do with cancer
When I was in my last year of an undergraduate degree, I was looking for a summer job and answered an ad (yes, a newspaper ad!) for a job as a flight attendant. I was 21 and had never really travelled very much. Well, I got the job for the summer, which I continued for four years! I was able to see the world and travel to many interesting places. I am still in contact with friends that I worked with during this exciting time!
What’s your go-to pick-me-up song?
“Stay with Me” – Faces
How did you discover your breast cancer?
I was not feeling myself and had a dull pain in my liver area. I went to my GP and explained I thought my discomfort was stress-related as I had just been promoted to Vice Principal and was going through a big career change. My GP ran the usual blood tests and noticed that the iron in my blood was very high. She decided to send me for an ultrasound, which is where the tumours in my liver and later, in my breast, were discovered.
What went through your head when you received your diagnosis?
I was with my husband and unfortunately, my GP was on vacation at the time. The news was given to us by someone I had never met before and her explanation of the diagnosis was very grim. Needless to say, I was thinking about getting my affairs in order and how I was going to break the news to my kids who were 8 and 11 at the time.
What’s the craziest thing someone said to you after being diagnosed with MBC?
Well as someone with MBC, the comments continue mostly because of the lack of knowledge around those of us living with stage 4 cancer. However, I feel it is my job to try to educate others about this terrible disease (must be the teacher in me!). I have received a lot of questions over the last few years around how I think I got cancer, as if knowing a cause will change the outcome.
Who has been your biggest source of support?
I have been lucky to have so many support systems. My husband and two kids are my front-line supporters and cheerleaders all day and every day. My family, especially my sister, has been there for me throughout this physical and emotional roller-coaster as well. I have also got a wonderful extended family of friends who took care of my kids and sent food during much-needed times. Finally, I have also appreciated the community of cancer sisters I met during Rethink’s Stretch, Heal, Grow program, the OASIS Advanced Cancer Support Group I attend twice a month and from online MBC groups.
What is the most difficult part of being a young woman with MBC?
I think the most difficult part about being someone with MBC is the lack of understanding around the disease. I live with cancer every day and will for the rest of my life, whether I like it or not I must confront that. I have become much better at managing this in my life but I still am a work in progress. At the moment I am stable in my treatment, but always worry about the other shoe dropping.
What’s something unexpected you learned about yourself?
I learned that I’m pretty good at adapting to change and that optimism has been a valuable tool to my well-being. I have a strong need to give back to the MBC community and have recently joined Rethink’s MBC Advisory Board. I am very excited to help find new ways to educate, empower, and advocate for those of us with MBC. I have also re-tapped into my physical/spiritual side with an hour of daily yoga practice that I so love and appreciate.
What words of wisdom would you pass on to another young woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer?
To those beautiful women with MBC:
Do not go gently into that good night. We hear you. We see you. We love you.