CancerCare campaign: How breast cancer changed my life

Sue Hanlon from Heysham is a member of the Phoenix Cancer Support Group
Sue Hanlon from Heysham is a member of the Phoenix Cancer Support Group

Moving house can be stressful enough but at the same time one Heysham mum had to come to terms with a devastating diagnosis.

On the same day Sue Hanlon was due to exchange contracts for her new home, she was also told she had breast cancer.

But instead of putting her plans on hold Sue decided to fight back for her future and her two daughters.

“It changes your life completely, you don’t take it for granted,” said the 53-year-old who has spoken of her experiences to highlight Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Sue, who lives on Kingfisher Drive, was given the all clear after her first set of mammogram scans but this wasn’t the end.

After pushing for another scan Sue was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 26 2014.

“I knew it was cancer, I could feel it,” said Sue.

“If I hadn’t pushed I wouldn’t be here now, it would have been too late.”

Sue, who works at Heysham Power Station, underwent a mastectomy in April 2014 and began chemotherapy on May 18, two days before moving into her new home.

During treatment she lost hair, toenails and had to prick a needle into her stomach every night for three months to fight off infection.

She said: “My tummy was like a pin cushion, the nurse could put the needle in but I wanted to do it.”

Despite her battle Sue worked full time, took on many fundraising challenges and vowed to go to her daughter, Faye’s 18th party.

She said: “I had my bad days but I just got on with it. I like to do things on my own but I had a lot of help and support, which was great.”

Support also came from cancer charity CancerCare and their online group, Phoenix Cancer Support Group.

After struggling with her weight Sue went to various cooking demonstrations at the Slynedales Centre.

“Everyone at CancerCare is really friendly and welcoming,” said Sue.

“There are a lot of people to talk to if you are scared.”

This year Sue, who has now been given the all clear, joined a team of 30 Great Wall of China trekkers in aid of St John’s Hospice.

“Having cancer has changed my life.”