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When Sue Robinson felt a lump in her breast in February 2002, she knew she had cancer.
She had felt some pain first, and when she checked it out, she felt the lump.
"It was, of course, devastating," Robinson, 55, said. "It put me on my knees."
That was a Saturday. She called her doctor Monday, and a office assistant said her doctor could see her in two weeks.
"I said, 'You don't understand, I'm driving there right now,'" Robinson said.
The biopsy results came back on Valentine's Day. Ten months of chemotherapy and radiation followed. She underwent chemo twice because the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, and both times, she lost her hair.
"I was OK with it, because my main goal was to live," Robinson said. "It didn't matter if I had hair."
Robinson, who works in nursing administration at Springs Memorial Hospital, was working in the hospital's admissions department then. It kept her busy, and kept her mind off of her cancer on some days.
Robinson was also caring for her parents, who were both diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. She visited them every day, got their daily medications ready and made sure they ate supper.
"I think that, too, helped keep me going," Robinson said.
The week before Christmas in 2002, Robinson finished her cancer treatment. She remembers how other breast cancer survivors rallied around her during her illness, and now she feels she has to do the same for other women diagnosed with the disease. That's why she's looking forward to being a model in the "Look Good, Feel Good" Fall Style fashion show being put on by the hospital's Healthy Woman program.
"Anytime you can make people more aware of it, it's a good thing," Robinson said. "If you feel something (a lump), don't put it off. Get it taken care of.
"I think it will be a lot of fun," she said of the fashion show. "I hope we'll have a good turnout."
Robinson has a family history of breast cancer. Two of her aunts and a great aunt were diagnosed with it. Robinson had a mammogram in May 2001, about 10 months before she found the lump in her breast. She has reached the point where she only has to see her oncologist once a year.
It may come as a surprise to some people, but Robinson finds her experience with cancer rewarding in many ways. It made her more aware of her own inner strength and of her family's love. She and her husband, Freddie, have a son, Trey, and daughter, Tracy and four grandchildren.
Their first great-grandchild is due in about two weeks.
"I've learned so much about myself and my family," Robinson said. "You realize you're such a strong person."