Susan Cox

Someone recently asked me the question, “What does it feel like to have cancer?”
 
And that’s the really scary thing, because for me, it didn’t feel like anything.
 
I was growing a grapefruit sized tumor on my kidney and I didn’t know anything was wrong. It was only when the tumor got bigger and started pushing on my internal organs,  that we discovered the cancer was back, for a second time.
 
My name is Susan Cox and I’m a three-time cancer survivor, who has been given the opportunity to not just survive – but to live out my dreams because of the amazing care that I received at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
 
The first time I was referred to The Princess Margaret was in 2007 after I had just been diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma. I was absolutely devastated, but from the moment I met Dr. David Hogg, I knew I was in the right place. On our first meeting, Dr. Hogg sat down with me and my husband Paul.  He answered all of our questions and went through the different treatment options. I have never met a better or more compassionate doctor in my life. Dr. Hogg is ranked best in Canada and if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here today.

One month later I had surgery at The Princess Margaret to remove the cancerous cells and my lymph nodes. Thankfully, the surgery was successful and the cancer hadn’t spread. I was able to spend three wonderful years with my husband Paul and our two children Lauren and Nate, cancer-free… until 2010.  This is when I learned the cancer had returned once again.
 
At the time, I had been experiencing frequent kidney infections and asked my family doctor for a CT scan. The scan revealed a large tumor on my kidney, which was growing so quickly that it was the size of a grapefruit by the time I had it surgically removed in September of that year. Once again, the experts at The Princess Margaret saved my life and gave me the strength to keep fighting.
 
The next three months while I was recovering from surgery, was a low point in my life. Finding out that the cancer had come back again made me really angry. But I turned that anger into determination and decided that I was going to live my life! In that moment, I got up, I got dressed in real clothes for the first time in months and I jokingly told my family to “Call Visa, because I’m back.
 
And I was back, I felt better and better every day.  Unfortunately, in March 2011 Dr. Hogg broke the news that three more tumors had grown.
 
I was in shock and was completely deflated. Even though Dr. Hogg had prepared me for the strong probability that the cancer would return, I was in complete denial; I thought I had beaten it. I never, in a million years, thought the cancer would come back. Yet, Dr. Hogg never gave up on me. Thanks to research, there were options for me and he had already devised a new plan to save my life.
 
At the time there was a new clinical trial just getting underway that was accepting patients for a drug called Tafinlar. Thankfully, my condition matched the criteria and I was accepted into the study. Amazingly, after two months my tumors had shrunk by half and after four months they were completely gone! This clinical trial saved my life and I’ve now been cancer-free for the past three years.
 
Thanks to donor support and the world leading research and care at The Princess Margaret, I have my life back. And ever since then I’ve been living out every dream on my bucket list, including buying a pink Vespa affectionately named Miss Pearl, traveling the world, and spending time with my husband and kids living and loving every moment that I have been given. I’m also giving back to my community by volunteering and sharing my story to help raise awareness about melanoma.
 
I can’t say enough about the care I received at The Princess Margaret. It was absolutely world- class. World-class people, world-class research and world-class technology. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been treated at one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world and through it all I was surrounded by the most amazing group of doctors, nurses, technicians, assistants and support staff. 
Added Sept 10, 2014