Suzanne Skinner

2021 Model Survivor

I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer on November 8, 2018, just shy of my 54th birthday. My markers were stage 1B and grade 3 with a KI67 score of 89%. From that moment on it was a whirlwind of tests, doctors appointments and fear. I had a clear mammogram only three and a half months before. At the end of September, I had a pain under my left breast. After three weeks of pain, I scheduled an appointment with my doctor. She saw how painful it was during my exam and although she didn't feel a lump, she sent me for an ultrasound for peace of mind. A small 1 cm tumor was found.

The following week, at the beginning of November, I had a biopsy done and then four days later received the dreaded call. I met with my oncologist and began chemo on December 5th. I had four AC and four dose dense taxol infusions over a 16 week period. By the time I started chemo, the original pain that prompted me to go to the doctor had subsided. It was most likely a pulled muscle. I am a firm believer in listening to our bodies! Had I not had the exam, my outcome would have been much different. I completed chemo on March 13th and had my double mastectomy with expanders on April 17th.

My pathology report came back with amazing news: there was no lymph node involvement and I had a complete pathologic response to the chemo. I had ZERO cancer left. My exchange surgery was at the end of August. I still have some swelling and a little bruising, but I'm very pleased to be done with this chapter. When people ask me about my cancer journey, I try to explain why I feel it wasn't just my journey, but also a journey for my family and friends.

I had and still have an enormous support system. My husband of 31 years, John, was my rock and by my side every single step of the way. His only ask of me was to get better (and let the dog out once a day ~ lol). We have built an amazing family and everyone lent a hand during our journey. We have three children; Zach (28), Abby (27) and Jake (24). Zach is an attorney here in KC and married to his high school sweetheart, Megan, who is a 5th grade teacher at Westridge Elementary in Raytown. They are expecting their first child next April. Our daughter Abby is a NICU nurse at Children's Mercy and married to her high school sweetheart Michael, who is a financial advisor with Edward Jones. They are having our first grand daughter on October 1st (if she doesn't make her grand debut earlier). Our youngest son Jake has lived in Washington, D.C. for almost a year and a half. He is the assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Irregular Warfare at The Pentagon. I get to see him about once a month. His high school sweetheart, Kristin, still lives here in KC and works at the Federal Reserve Bank downtown. We are looking forward to making her an official Skinner in the next few years.

They all had to watch me (most of the time feeling helpless) struggle with my port access during infusions, pass out at appointments, suffer from the side effects and withdraw from everything social that I loved to do. I look forward to beginning my next chapter as a Mimi. Having such a close knit family has helped me survive the past 10 months. I never felt alone or defeated. They were and still are my biggest cheerleaders. And for that I am so grateful!