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Survivor Stories 2013: An Update On Susan Reif

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Survivor Stories 2013:
An Update On Susan Reif

We featured Susan Reif in our 2012 Survivor Stories and she’s got an update to share!

Nearly Seven Years and Counting….

It’s been nearly seven years since I heard NED (No Evidence of Disease) and on many days, the whole experience is so far in the back of my mind that I don’t give cancer more than a millisecond worth of my thought or attention. And then there are other days, when events, conversations, tests or scans, or even a simple letter, can bring the whole experience rushing back over me.

About two months ago, I had such an experience… triggered by a letter from my oncologist. The letter was to inform me that he would no longer be practicing. He was taking a much needed respite. While intellectually it made sense and I was very happy for him, emotionally, I was stopped in my tracks. This was the man who saved my life. This was the man whose kindness, gentle strength, and knowledge gave me hope. This was the man who calmed me when I had a recent “unusual” blood test (thankfully, a false alarm). What would I do? First, breathe. Deeply and slowly. Next, call and beg him to stay (not really, but I wanted to). Next, realize how lucky I was to have met him and been his patient.

The fear and anxiety eased a bit when I heard from him that he was referring me to his colleague (and friend). Ok, I’ll give it a try. I have an appointment shortly. The anxiety is starting to build, but I keep remembering that he personally referred me to his friend, not just his colleague. I’m hoping that this is a case when birds of a feather do flock together. That the new doctor’s kindness, warmth, knowledge and bedside manner will be in the same league as my original oncologist’s overall demeanor. Breathing. Slowly and Deeply.

Seven years is a long time. Much has happened since I was originally diagnosed. People say that time heals all wounds. Time may change the wound, even ease the wound, but in my experience, it never totally heals. My whole cancer journey was a wild ride. A frightening up-and-down ride. One I certainly would have preferred to not take. It changed me and it changed everyone around me. It put a little fear in our world. A fear that some days you can ignore, some days you can squelch, and some days you have to tough it out, face the fear (or the scan, the mammo, the blood test, etc.) acknowledge it’s a scary day, and keep breathing slowly and deeply.

Susan Reif is the author of, “For Family and Friends…. 39 Things to Make a Cancer Patient Smile.” The book is available at: and

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