Susan Hayes talking about her experience with breast cancer. Photo; Andrew Perryman.

Sue Hayes, 47, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer eight years ago – stage three ovarian cancer – which isn’t good.

At stages one or two you’re in with a chance. But Sue’s initial diagnosis was confused with a urinary tract infection, which delayed the diagnosis and allowed the cancer to advance.

With chemotherapy and an operation to remove her ovaries and uterus, Sue was given a reprieve.

The chemotherapy made her feel ill: the nausea, the lethargy, the aches and pains were terrible.

“Sometimes when I was lying on the couch, too sick to move, my son would come and lie on the floor, just to be beside me, to keep me company,” Sue said.

“My daughter cooked the meals and my husband is consistently supportive and loving,”

It is a form of medicine you can never find in a pharmacy.

Once the chemo treatment was finished the doctors asked Sue to study her family tree and see if there were incidents of breast cancer.

As part of this process Sue discovered that breast cancer ran through her family on her father’s side, a high indication that Sue carried the BRCA1 gene.

Patients with ovarian cancer have a high chance of carrying this BRCA1 gene.

The BRCA1 gene normally acts to restrain the growth of cells in the breast but when mutated, it predisposes individuals to breast cancer as well as ovarian cancer.

The next stage for Sue was to have a double mastectomy and immediate reconstruction. Unfortunately, Sue caught a serious staph infection and had to endure rigorous and protracted treatment with antibiotics.

Sue’s response to this series of unfortunate events?
“At least I don’t have to worry about breast cancer anymore.”

In 2016, only weeks after the infection cleared up, the ovarian cancer returned.

Sue was subsequently put on chemotherapy again.

“This is why I have agreed to put my privacy behind me and be the ambassador for the Mothers Day Classic,” Sue said.

“The type and quantity of chemo I was on was research specific into the genes which block the cancer cells.

“To do research you need lots of money.”

Sue finally finished her last round of chemo on April 10th and she’s already training for the Mother’s Day Classic where she’ll be running alongside her daughter.

Don’t feel sorry for Sue. She and her loving family are living a good life because Sue has set the benchmark.

“We simply love being together. Teasing each other and laughing. If anyone has a bad day we flip the situation over and turn it into a joke,” Sue said.

“I don’t think I could have stood the past few years without my husband and children holding me up.”

Since the inception of the Mother’s Day Classic in 1998, funding has been made available for 64 Australian research projects and over 250 scientists.

“The ovarian cancer can come back at any time but I’m basically hoping that another research–based trial will keep me alive,” Sue said.

The Mother’s Day Classic will be held on Sunday, May 12 and is being sponsored by It’s Her Gym and Forty Winks.

For further information about participating in the run or making a donation go online and type in Mother’s Day Classic Bendigo.    

Dianne Dempsey