When a routine mammogram revealed cancer in December 2010, Suzanne Shimp wanted to keep her life as close to normal as possible.
“Cancer is not a death sentence,” said the North Augusta resident, who underwent a lumpectomy and 33 rounds of radiation. “It is a challenge.”
And there were lots of challenges along the way such as falling the day after her surgery and spraining her ankle and twisting her knee. And having her incision re-open 10 days after surgery. Undergoing physical therapy for her knee and ankle weren’t what she’d planned to do while receiving radiation treatments.
But one constant in the chaos besides her family and faith was Shimp’s Jazzercise classes.
“I do Jazzercise five days a week,” she said.
When she was in a boot and knee brace and dealing with surgical wounds, she still hobbled into the classes and participated as much as she could even if that meant sitting in a chair and simply moving her arms to the beat of the music.
She kept that as a semblance of what her normal was.
Keeping a positive attitude was also important on her road to recovery. There were times when she said she did have a pity party, but it was OK because she didn’t allow herself to stay there. She worked to surround herself with positive people as well.
“My husband (Bob) of almost 50 years next May. He has been there through every appointment and every surgery,” she said. “And my church. I have a strong faith and a strong family.”
She also praised her doctors.
“My doctors are the best in the world,” she said. “They prayed with me, and that was a huge support.”
Shimp journaled her progress and set a goal for after she’d finished her radiation treatments.
“We had a celebration at the Pinnacle Club. It was a great feeling,” she said.
And now, she tells everyone who “needs to hear” about her cancer journey and lets them know to be an advocate for themselves.
“If something doesn’t feel right, call your doctor immediately and let them know.”