Spotlight: Susan Naucke Schindler, Cancer Survivor and Cancer Companion

Susie Naucke SchindlerYes- Three times she was told she had cancer.  But not due to recurrences but three DIFFERENT types of cancer. Her faith is incredibly inspiring. Read on to learn about her journey.

My first cancer diagnosis was cervical cacner in 1993 at age 38. I underwent a complete hysterectomy for
the cancer and since the cancer was a very early stage, I did not require
any additional treatment after the surgery.  I called upon the Lord many times during this time – in thanksgiving, in pain,
and sometimes in sorrow.

I survived, and It was GOD who brought me through this…

MY BREAST CANCER  (1993-1994)
In the summer of 1993, about three months after my hysterectomy for cervical cancer and while receiving hormone therapy, I found a lump in my right breast.  This was not a recurrence – it was breast cancer, the same as what my Mom died from – unrelated to my previous cancer. My reaction to this cancer was quite different this time – disbelief, shock, fear, anger – so many uncomfortable feelings. I was calm when I received the phone call from my surgeon. Okay, what do we do? A lumpectomy was performed right away, and I found a team of cancer doctors to treat (or should I say, beat) this thing. Again, this was a very early stage cancer, so I took part in a clinical study that included: one chemo treatment, one month of daily radiation, then five more months of chemo.

Many times I wept in the (ridiculous) thoughts of my possible death (yes, the thoughts were there). I attempted to share my feelings, my fears and my hopes with my husband, but he could not listen; it was too hard for him to even think of losing me.

In my tears, called upon my God and Lord, accepting His will – I was resigned to do whatever it would take to survive. God sent other people to be my support at that time, as my husband had to deal with his feelings about my cancer separately. He simply could not express them, and I know he was hurting – probably more than I.

Again, I survived and it was GOD who brought me through this…

MY ANAL CANCER (2010-2011)
Seventeen years later, after thoughts of cancer had long disappeared from my mind, I was
diagnosed with (an early stage) anal cancer, but similar to the cervical cancer. This time, my response was simply, “Okay, what’s the next step?” Since surgery exposed the cancer, chemotherapy and radiation were protocol as treatment. Upon my first visit with my oncologist, I
decided, after looking at my maternal family history of cancer, to participate in genetic testing. My doctor, his nurse and I knew that the results would come back positive…and they did. I elected to wait until after this cancer treatment to decide what my next step would be.

In the months to follow that included Thanksgiving and Christmas, I took disability and did not work during my cancer treatment. My job was much too stressful to manage while undergoing daily radiation, 96-hour chemo treatments (via a pump) and all of the nasty side effects. This time, my husband was totally there for me, as were my neighbors, my church family, and my siblings –
all caring for me and providing everything I needed. I continued to sing in the choir at church and attended services as much as I was able – I so needed to be in God’s house to feel His strength through His Word and Sacrament and sing His praises, for I completely trusted His will for my life. Romans 14:8 became my mantra during this cancer and carries me on to this day: For if we live, we live to the Lord and if we die, we die to the Lord; so whether we live or whether we die, WE ARE THE LORD’S.

And once again, I survived, and it was GOD who brought me through this…

One year after the diagnosis of my anal cancer, after all treatment was completed and the final biopsy came back clean, I decided to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy (with reconstruction) to prevent breast cancer. The decision was not difficult – I had been through enough. This surgery is no guarantee that the cancer will not recur in another place, but even if it does, I know that my life is in God’s hands – I am HIS, always and forever. No matter what happens, GOD will bring me through it, to continue serving Him on earth, or to live with Him in His heavenly kingdom!

About Karen Tripp

Beyond being a Christian Counselor and the President of Cancer Companions, Karen loves to read (she's a great reader) and loves to sing (she's a bad singer) in her home near St Louis, MO. Cancer has personally touched Karen's personal life through her dad - a 23 year colon cancer survivor. Impacting lives for Christ through her speaking, writing and counseling fills Karen with a passion which infuses every task she approaches. (except matching socks. Karen hates matching socks.)
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