Counting Blessings: Susan Siman's Cancer Journey
My journey with thyroid cancer began the same way it does for most people I suspect… with shock, confusion and disbelief.
I was young, healthy and with no family history when I started feeling exhausted all the time. I figured it was just my life being out of balance… running around after my son, working too hard, not getting enough sleep. I was anchoring the morning show at WISC-TV at the time, and getting to my desk at 3 am!
It was my wonderful primary care doctor, Elizabeth George, MD who figured out what was going on. It is my fondest wish that every patient finds a doctor like Dr. George. I mean this in the nicest possible way…she was like a Rottweiler about my care. She was 100 percent on my side and went above and beyond to make sure I got the treatment I needed.
Dr. George referred me to two people who would change my life – Endocrinologist Diane Elson, MD, and surgeon, Herbert Chen, MD.
When I first met Dr. Elson, we spent the first 30 minutes in her office talking about dogs! Her kind, gentle way put me at ease immediately and helped me handle the difficult news that I would need surgery and follow up treatment. I remember sobbing in her office when I found out a year later, I had to do it all over again.
But lucky for me, there was Dr. Herb Chen.
Susan and her family at the Cana Island Light House in Door County, Wisconsin
There is no one more talented or supportive. I was very worried about what surgery on my neck would do to my voice and I was concerned about the scar and how it would look on TV. Dr. Chen was calm and reassuring. He cheered me up and made me realize everything would be ok and he was right. I'm proud to consider him a friend. I still get a card every year on the anniversary of my surgery from one of the operating room nurses! That speaks volumes about the kind of people who work at UW Hospital.
It's been quite a journey for me, my family and my doctors…and the journey continues. Today, I'm happy and healthy and overwhelmed with gratitude. Cancer is something that stops you in your tracks and brings everything into crystal clear focus. It is truly a gift in that way.
Whenever I meet people who are just embarking on this journey, I tell them what my grandmother said to me when I first got sick. We were standing on the beach in South Carolina collecting sand dollars. She put one in my hand and said, "Never give up, because tomorrow, the sun will rise…and who knows what the tide will bring."
In the meantime, find peace in knowing…you are not alone and we're lucky to be in Madison.