The pain in Sue’s left shoulder was probably just a kink in her muscle from sleeping the wrong way – or so she hoped. It was a Monday morning in March 2016 and Sue Clayton was working at her desk when the discomfort began and continued to worsen.
“Then the pain shot down my arm and back,” recalls Sue. “I thought I was having a heart attack.”
Sue’s husband drove her to their local hospital in Burlington, where she underwent X-ray and CT scans. The results indicated that Sue was not suffering a heart attack, but a tumour could be seen growing on her left lung.
An unexpected diagnosis
“I was completely shocked when I was diagnosed with lung cancer,” she says. “I thought it was a mistake because I wasn’t a smoker. It didn’t seem possible.”
Surgeries were conducted to remove a portion of her left lung and her left adrenal gland. Sue was then referred to Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre (JHCC), where she receives care under Dr. Rosalyn Juergens.
“It was an enormous relief to learn that I still had treatment options.”
When a CT scan revealed that the cancer had spread to her right lung and other areas of her body, both chemotherapy and surgery were ruled out as viable options.
“That was the first time I cried during my cancer journey,” remembers Sue. “Realizing that I had stage IV cancer, I thought I was going to die. But I was so grateful for the compassionate care of Dr. Juergens, who was always looking out for my whole family.”
Joining a clinical trial
Luckily Sue was a suitable candidate for an oral medication that specifically targets cancer cells.
“It was an enormous relief to learn that I still had treatment options,” she says.
Sue reacted well to the medication and now takes one pill a day to keep her cancer under control. Her condition is monitored with a CT scan and a consultation with Dr. Juergens every two months.
“I’m feeling pretty good nowadays. I’m grateful for the amazing care I receive.”
Celebrating today and tomorrow
Sue feels that “every day is a blessing” as she continues her cancer journey. She looks forward to sharing her story as a Patient Ambassador at Illuminight on October 26.
“I treasure every moment I spend with loved ones and I don’t take anything for granted as I live my life and look toward the future.”
Illuminight is a new fundraising event supporting the cancer program at JHCC. For more information about Illuminight, visit hamiltonhealth.ca/illuminight.