Georgia's Online Cancer Information Center

Susan McLendon: Too Busy To Listen to Our Body


We’ve all been there – too busy to listen to what our bodies are telling us. In 2003, Susan McLendon was too busy; she was in graduate school and taking care of family members that were sick. So, when she noticed some breast changes, she initially ignored them.

Thankfully, after a couple of months, Susan mentioned what she had noticed to her doctor. She had a mammogram, and based on what it showed, a biopsy on the same day. Within 72 hours, Susan was faced with the reality of Stage III breast cancer with lymph node involvement.

After a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation, and solid support from coworkers and friends, Susan is able to share the invaluable lesson that she learned.

“I put so many others things in front of my own health,” she said. “Now it’s important that I share with women to be vigilant.”

Susan was already in school to become a nurse practitioner when she was diagnosed, but it was her own cancer journey that turned her to community health and prevention. She currently serves as a Rural Community Health Nurse Specialist at Meadows Regional Medical Center in Southeast Georgia.

“Poverty is so extreme in our area; if patients are actually able to find out about and access screening, they often can’t get the treatment. So I spend much of my time writing grants for women without insurance, and then connect them to the resources they need for their entire journey.”

Susan’s commitment led MRMC to win a grant from proceeds of Georgia’s Breast Cancer License Tag sales. “It’s amazing how Susan has turned her personal journey into navigating others through the process, and most importantly, educating those that don’t have the means to seek treatment,” said Georgia CORE director and fellow cancer survivor Angie Patterson.

But Susan is quick to remind people that it’s not just indigent women who don’t have access. It’s also important to encourage screening to women that are “too busy,” she said.

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Rebecca Palpant Shimkets is a two-time cancer survivor with an over two-decade career in mental health specializing in media depictions of mental illnesses and building programs in the U.S. and internationally. The LLL is a beautifully written, bi-weekly email that explores mental health and post-treatment cancer survivorship.

9/19/2019

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