Super Survivor Overwhelmed by Huge Support from Employer, Co-Workers

Super-Survivor-Sue-FaganThe day before her mastectomy, Sue Fagan, a loan document specialist at Bank of Springfield, got a call asking her to drop by work for a few hours.

No problem, she thought. She was glad to answer any last-minute questions before she was off work for a while recovering after her surgery. What was waiting for her took her completely by surprise.

Her desk was decorated with streamers and balloons. A large homemade poster of Katy Perry was on her desk (Sue had adopted the pop star’s song “Roar” as her theme in her journey to beat breast cancer). A large bag was filled with books, pajamas and things to do.

The entire department had dressed in pink. And then she noticed the other departments in the branch had dressed in pink, too. But that wasn’t all. Other branches were also clad in pink and emailed their photos to encourage her.

“It is still overwhelming to this day when I think about it,” Sue said.

Sue is one of three women who were randomly chosen as Super Survivors to be honored at this year’s Memorial’s Be Aware Women’s Fair. The fifth annual event will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, in the Orr Building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

Super Survivors are women whose breast cancer journeys have been an inspiration to others. Their unique stories will be shared with fair-goers when the Super Survivors reveal their makeovers courtesy of BJ Grand Salon and Spa and their new outfits. The big reveal will take place at noon on the women’s fair’s Entertainment Stage.

Sue’s journey began Nov. 11, 2013. She was enjoying a relaxing day off work when she felt a pinch in her left breast; another pinch followed a few hours later. When she checked it, she discovered her breast was incredibly swollen.

Unfazed, she called her doctor’s office, assuming it was an infection or “something that I could take care of with a couple of antibiotics and be on my merry way.”

It turned out to be much more. After several medical visits, Sue learned she had Stage 3 cancer in her breast and lymph nodes. For the longest time during those early visits, she went from joking that it was nothing to being in shock and disbelief

From her surgery to her final radiation treatment, a six-month journey, she drew on the strength of her family—her husband, Troy, and her children, Connor and Sakura—and her work colleagues. Her hair is growing back. She has lymphedema and wears a compression glove on her arm. “That’s a small price because I can see my children, my husband and my co-workers every day,” she said.

“I do know that I had a support system that went above and beyond what most people have,” Sue said. “It’s heartbreaking to know that not everyone has that kind of support.”

To other women who are on the beginning of their cancer journey, Sue says, “No matter how horrible you feel the day is, just remember this too will pass. Never give up. Never let cancer beat you. Fight it till you cannot fight it anymore.”