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Suzie Oden: Overcoming a Family History of Cancer

Suzie Oden

"Many people think cancer is a death sentence, but I never thought it was."

Suzie Oden
Breast Cancer

Suzie Oden became a patient at Texas Oncology–Tyler through an unexpected trip to the emergency room to treat extreme fatigue. Initially diagnosed with an anxiety attack, Oden had a feeling something else was at play. That’s when she met Dr. Thomas Gregory, who was on call that day. Little did she know, he would later became her oncologist.

After running some tests, Dr. Gregory identified blood clots in both her leg and lungs. After discussing Oden’s family history of cancer, which includes her mom’s mother, her father, her sister, and several other family members all passing away from cancer, Dr. Gregory recommended genetic testing. 

The BRCA Gene Test

Dr. Gregory suggested I meet with a genetic counselor to do the BRCA gene test and another mammogram, even though I had a clear mammogram two months earlier. 

It revealed that, yes, I had the marker for cancer, just like my twin sister. And I had not one, but two tumors in my right breast. I thought there must be a mistake. I’d been cleared two months ago! They did a biopsy and sure enough, it was cancer.

I knew I wanted a double mastectomy. My breasts were twins and if one had cancer already, I felt it was only a matter of time until the other got it. I also chose to take them both because at the time of my diagnosis, my twin sister was in the middle of chemotherapy for breast cancer. I could see what it was doing to her, the toll it took on her mentally and physically. Dr. Gregory confirmed I wouldn’t need chemotherapy treatments, for which I’m still thankful. 

The genetic test also showed I had Factor V – a gene mutation that causes blood clots. I told my daughters that they needed to take the BRCA gene test, too. Thankfully, neither of them has the marker for cancer, but one of them has Factor V. During her pregnancy, thanks to the test, a series of shots prevented complications from the mutation.

Key Learnings from a Patient’s Perspective 

People need to be aware of what’s going on with their bodies and their family medical histories – and take action. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned from my experience with cancer. It’s remarkable what physicians can do if we communicate openly. This journey has taught me to listen more, and to be more patient. During the cancer experience, it’s not as if your life is flashing in front of you, but you cherish moments more than before. 

Many people think cancer is a death sentence, but I never thought it was. The doctors knew exactly what to do; I was obedient to what they said; and Dr. Gregory saved my life, not once, but twice.

I put my faith in God, my husband, and my doctors. From the day I met Dr. Gregory, I knew I was going to love him and that I was cared for, that I was loved back as a patient. God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle. He puts people in your path that you should recognize, and in my case, it was Texas Oncology.

The information included in this testimonial is based on one patient’s unique experience and is not intended to represent all patient outcomes or expectations.