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25th February 2020

Sue Reeves

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When retired nurse Sue, from Oxfordshire, found out she would need chemotherapy, she decided to take matters into her own hands – by getting all her hair shaved off. She chose to do this to raise funds for the only charity dedicated to supporting people affected by lung cancer. Her daughter, Ragin and grandson, Michael joined her in braving the shave.

Reflecting on the past year, Sue remembers how she first became aware of symptoms: “I had always had a cough, but I noticed some weight loss which I just put down to having an energetic job, I didn’t think it was anything else. In early 2019, my hubby told me to get my cough checked out as I was coughing in my sleep.

My GP prescribed antibiotics and a chest x-ray which was to be repeated six weeks after finishing antibiotics. They weren’t happy with the results and I was fast tracked to the hospital for a barrage of tests.

When the doctor showed me the tumor on a CT scan. What I saw looked like ‘Daffy Duck’! So from then on, that was what I called my lung cancer. I found naming my lung cancer to be a good way of keeping the whole experience lighthearted. Daffy was diagnosed as T1 N0 M0 (stage 1, contained within the lung), meaning it was caught early.

Surgery

I had a left upper lobe removal in November 2019. Recovery was painful at times, but not too bad. I was in hospital for three days, the staff and doctors were amazing

Breathlessness during recovery was hard to come to terms with, as well as not having energy to do anything. My middle daughter Ragin is the fourth generation in our family to be a nurse – she took time out to care for me and my Mum, who was also needing care.

Shock to the system

Just as I was getting used to recovery, doctors found that Daffy Duck had gone further than we thought.

Sadly, a month after surgery they found it had spread to my lymph node and told me I would need chemotherapy. I really believed that the operation would be the end of the lung cancer, I was shocked and got angry with it. I thought – ‘How dare it stuff my life!’

Dealing with diagnosis

When I was originally told I had cancer, I was really upset, I cried a lot. At times it was a nightmare.

My hubby knows exactly how to cheer me up on bad days, usually cracking a joke to make me laugh!

I have found it helpful sharing a diary of my journey in a Facebook group, I hope that sharing my story will be as helpful for others as it has been for me.

Being positive has helped me deal with my diagnosis. It’s hard at times and I have my down days, but the support of my family and friends has been invaluable. They have helped me through.

Fundraising

When I found out I was going to have chemotherapy, I knew there was a chance I could lose my hair. I asked Ragin if she would shave her head with me, and my grandson Michael wanted to join in with the fun too!

I chose Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation because I know that you are the only charity that is dedicated to lung cancer. I searched for information on your website which was helpful and, your community fundraiser Niamh was so nice and supported us with t-shirts and fundraising materials for our head shave event.

We had a great day, with loads of support from friends and family. My hairdresser dressed up as TV’s ‘Mrs. Brown’ which gave us with plenty of laughs!

It meant so much to have my daughter and grandson taking part with me.

These days, there are so many advances in treatment that allow people to live with – and live well – with lung cancer.

I’m currently having the first of four cycles of chemotherapy – a mix of IV and tablets. At first, I was annoyed about having to have chemo, but it is what it is; I need to have the chemo to live and get over this disease.”