Faces of Survival: Susan Kuzia

Susan Kuzia’s treasured memories are contained in the numerous scrapbooks she’s made over the years. But one in particular is special even though it chronicles a darker time in her life.


“I use humor to get through things. I titled my scrapbook ‘Susan’s Battle for the Boob,’” Kuzia of her breast cancer scrapbook.

The battle began during one of her favorite times of the year – Christmas. A difficult reading of her annual mammogram in December 2010 required her to return for a second look. This time, a closer look revealed – and a biopsy confirmed – the disease.

Kuzia had the first of two lumpectomy surgeries in early January 2011, followed by six weeks of radiation treatments. The tumor was sent to a California lab for testing to determine the mitotic count, which helps determine the types of treatments needed.

“It was a low number,” she said of the scale that ranges from one to 19, “Eleven is now my favorite number.”

Instead of aggressive intravenous chemotherapy, Kuzia could take an oral medication instead for three to five years. After a year, she suffered a stress fracture – a side effect of the drug – and her doctor suspended its use.

And it’s all detailed in the scrapbook. All the dates, test results, cancer research and lots of facts, so she can share it with friends if they ever have questions.

“It was an emotional journey,” she said. “Scrapbooking is cathartic for me. I love scrapbooking. My mother was a historian, and my dad was a doctor. I got traits from both of them.”

It’s not all bad memories, though; it also holds plenty of good ones. She has photos of her nurses and Dr. Karen Yeh, her surgical oncologist, whom she attended high school with in Savannah.

The scrapbook also contains cards, notes and other mementos from family and friends.

“At such a time in your life, you realize how many friends you really have,” she said.

Family and friends helped her a lot, but she also believes that maintaining a positive attitude was also important in beating the disease. After six years, she’s still cancer-free. Kuzia had her most recent mammogram in August. She encourages every woman to get their regular mammograms.

“Women definitely need to stay up to date on their mammograms. For the first couple of years, I nagged all my friends,” she said.

Upcoming events

Look Good Feel Better: 1-3 p.m. Mondays, Oct. 16, The Lydia Project, 1369 Interstate Pkwy.; volunteer beauty professionals help women coping with cancer with skin care and makeup, wig selection and care, more; register at (800) 227-2345.

Cedar Creek Sew n Sews Lydia Work Day: 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesdays, Oct. 17, 24, Cedar Creek Community Center, 2584 Club Drive, Aiken; cut fabric, sew and trim totes given to The Lydia Project clients; contact Mary, (803) 502-1380 or rrommich@gforcecable.com.

St. Michael’s Sewing Group: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Wednesdays, Oct. 18, 25; 263 St. George Drive, Waynesboro; sew Lydia totes in support of the women and girls The Lydia Project serves; bring your sewing machine; Alice, (706) 554-3306.

Lydia Work Day: 10 a.m.-noon Wednesday, Oct. 18, Mount Pleasant Lutheran Church, 101 N. Calhoun St., Saluda, S.C.; cut material for totes later sewn and given to women and girls coping with cancer; Dee, (803) 215-1354.

New Volunteer Orientation: 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, The Lydia Project, 1369 Interstate Pkwy., find unique volunteer opportunities from home, at the agency, and in the community with this faith-based agency that provides free services for women and girls coping with any type of cancer; thelydiaproject.org.

Miracle Mile Walk: 7:30 a.m. pre-walk party, 9 a.m. walk Saturday, Oct. 21, Augusta Common, 836 Reynolds St.; University Health Care Foundation’s annual event supports University Hospital’s Breast Health Center and Mobile Mammography Unit, which provide life-saving screenings to women in the community who otherwise might not have access to or means to afford these screenings; visit themiraclemilewalk.org to start a team, join a team, sponsor a walker and donate; University Health Care Foundation, (706) 667-0030.

Lydia Work Day: 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Oct. 21, Lewis Memorial United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 5555 Hereford Farm Road, Evans; cut fabric and sew Lydia totes in support of women and girls coping with cancer; bring your sewing machine; nursery services available; (706) 863-6795.

Lydia Night at Firehouse Subs: 5-9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, Firehouse Subs in Augusta and North Augusta; 10 percent of all food sales will be donated to keep services free for women fighting cancer.

Lydia Sew Day: 1-4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, Lutheran Church by the Lake Fellowship Hall, 100 Twelve Oaks Drive and Hwy. 378, McCormick, S.C.; sew Lydia totes in support of women and girls coping with cancer; bring your sewing machine; Peggy Harla at rhoopz@wctel.net.

3rd Annual Wacky Wig Walk: 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, Columbia County Amphitheater; benefits the Georgia Cancer Center-Image Boutique Fund; $20 registration at giving.augusta.edu/wackywigwalk; groups of 10 or more, contact Susan Doughtie at (706) 721-1364 or SDoughtie@augusta.edu.

Lydia Work Day: 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Oct. 28, Advent Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall, 3232 Washington Road; cut material for totes later sewn and given to women and girls coping with cancer; Renee (803) 386-3617 or rblanchette4@gmail.com.

Lydia Work Day: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, 853 N. Liberty St., Waynesboro; cut fabric and sew Lydia totes in support of women coping with cancer; lunch will be served; email Nina Campbell at springer_usa@yahoo.com.

Lydia Collection Drive: Saturday, Oct. 28, KJ’s Market, 5155 Wrightsboro Road, Grovetown; shop and drop to support The Lydia Project with supply needs for those fighting cancer.

3rd Annual Fashion Show Fundraiser: 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, Trinity on the Hill UMC-Wesley Hall, 1330 Monte Sano Ave., benefiting The Lydia Project, holiday fashions by custom clothier, fashion designer and alteration specialist Alethia Hudson, fashions from Cato Fashions and David’s Bridal, music by A Major Sound, emcee by local comedienne Poncere Daniels and catering by Southern Girl Cooks; shop for holiday gifts from vendors; $20; email Alethia Hudson at sewmuchtalent@yahoo.com or (706) 414-1958.

Talbot’s Lydia Day: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31, 491 A Highland Ave.; 10 percent of sales benefits The Lydia Project.

Fall Back for Tommy Charity Tournament: 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, Jones Creek Golf Club; sponsored by Anytime Fitness in support of The Lydia Project; $300 foursome; Rachel, (706) 910-1220.

Prayer Group: 9:30 a.m. Thursdays, The Lydia Project, 1369 Interstate Pkwy., lift up women’s and families’ prayer intentions; and pray for women and girls referred during the week; complete the volunteer application at thelydiaproject.org.



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