Suz's Cancer Fight

Our beautiful friend Suz is fighting the battle of her life. Two years ago, at the age of 31, she underwent a double mastectomy for triple negative breast cancer. Unfortunately, this extremely aggressive cancer is back and has spread to her breast bone and outer lining of her heart and lung. We are all devastated by this news as we thought she had overcome her battle with this horrible disease, however, her biggest fight is still ahead. With three precious children at home – Aria (aged 4), Porter (aged 3), Levi (aged only 3 months), and a beautiful stepson Dylan (aged 10), Suz and her husband Philip have a lot to fight for.

Suz has already been through so much and has inspired so many of us throughout her life. We would love to help her and her beautiful family through their difficult journey ahead. After extensive testing on her specific cancer, her best chance of long-term survival involves not only mainstream treatments, but also radical integrative medicine. Unfortunately, many of these therapies are extremely expensive, even before factoring in everyday living costs. The German clinic that Suz has been in correspondance with, and hopes to go to, excedes the $100,000 mark.

We want to support Suz, Phil and their family as much as possible, and help ease their financial burden. Any amount that you are able to contribute will mean so much to us.

**For anyone outside of Australia, please note that your donation amount entered is in Australian Dollars.

Thank you so much for loving on this beautiful family!
Tina, Kristina, Kathryn, Kate & Kelly 

(Tina, Kathryn and Kate have known and been some of  Suz's best friends for over 20 years, since high-school; Kristina and Kelly both met Suz through church (US and Australia) and have been a great spiritual encouragement for each other over the years.

This campaign is linked to Suz and Phil's email and bank account. They have exclusive access to the funds. 

*For more details about Suz’s journey, please read her husband’s sweet biography below.

Hi there! I’m Philip, husband to an incredible Aussie named Suz, and this is a little bit of our story -

Two years ago, at the age of 31, Suz found a lump in her breast which the biopsy confirmed as a high grade, super-aggressive Cancer (Invasive Ductal Carcinoma to be exact.) As we processed the initial shock we began discussing our options for treatment. As tough as it was, Suz, along with the doctors, believed undergoing a double mastectomy would be the best way to reduce the risk of recurrence. This was a major concern and a high possibility due to Suz's young age. As you can imagine the surgery was deeply invasive and recovery was, at times, excruciating. Due to the intense recovery process Suz wasn't allowed to pick-up or hold our, then 1 and 2-year-old, little ones for nearly two months following the surgery. It was a rough journey, both physically and emotionally, but at the end they said they got a clear margin around the tumor, and her lymph nodes came back as negative for cancer cells which was a relief and a positive sign for our future.

Four months after surgery she underwent reconstruction. Two months afterward we found out we were pregnant with our third child! We were having another sweet little girl, Alivia Hope. We decided at that point to move back to Australia so Suz could be close to her family for support and focus on her healing. We also were in desperate need of re-focusing our life together, resetting our priorities, and building our future. Like so many, our life revolved around the busyness of work, trying to manage a growing household, and simply burning the candle at every end possible- leaving us frustrated, over-stressed, and exhausted. We knew a massive change was needed and we decided to pack up, sell our house and cars, and start fresh! Right around the 5-month mark during her pregnancy Suz went for a check-up. Up to this point everything with little Alivia seemed to be progressing perfectly. But a day or two prior to this check-up Suz mentioned that she felt like something was wrong. When she got to the doctor’s office she laid on the ultrasound table, like she had so many times before, only this time there wouldn’t be a heartbeat. Suz still has vivid pictures of that ultrasound screen revealing our beautiful Alivia’s body, tiny, and motionless etched in her mind. A couple of days later we went to the hospital and there, after a difficult 18-hour labor, Suz delivered our sweet little girl. It was an excruciating loss for our family, including our 3yr old, Aria, who was so excited to meet her little sister. We were deeply grateful and comforted, however, that we were given the opportunity to hold her and say goodbye.

We moved to Australia the following month, and then one month later fell pregnant again(!!) with a little boy, our precious Levi who is now almost 4 months old. During the pregnancy Suz started getting lots of pain in her chest and down her arm. We were concerned about it but were trying to look at the positives and thought it was just pregnancy related or a fairly common form of post mastectomy pain syndrome. Suz made the decision that she wouldn’t have any scans done during the pregnancy that could possibly hurt the baby, and certainly would not have chosen any treatment until after he was born safe and sound.

Thankfully, our little Levi was born, a completely healthy 9lb 2oz chubby boy. It was a beautiful, natural, water-birth, and Suz’s recovery was great. A few weeks later, however, her pain started to intensify to the point that it hurt to simply take a deep breath. She woke up in pain several times a night and we knew we needed to get the scans done. She went in for an ultrasound and immediate CT scan. The specialist’s office called us back in the next morning (never a good sign) and told us that the breast cancer had come back. They told us that Suz, the proud mommy to our new 6-week old baby boy, now has Stage 4 cancer, and that it is invading into her breastbone and is sitting on the outer lining of her lung and heart. The prognosis was not good, and we stood there in shock, while being told that it was terminal and incurable; treatments could only give us a little more time. 

Fast forward a few weeks, past countless more doctor’s appointments and extensive testing, and we’re about to journey into our first round of radiation and chemo. Suz’s cancer is "triple negative," which is the hardest to diagnose and treat, and therefore has the highest mortality rate of all breast cancers. Combine that with its aggressiveness, strong resistance to treatments, and high ability to repair itself, our journey forward is unsure and scary. The treatment plan needs to be incredibly specific and individualized in order to prevent the cancer from spreading even further or simply coming back in a a few years. While we don’t live in denial of the fragility of life, or the very real outcome this could have for our family, we are not simply laying down and walking towards light either. Suz is the strongest woman I know. She is an incredible fighter and she refuses to give up on her family and leave her babies behind without their mother. She is very much determined to be there with our little ones for every milestone, as they continue grow and mature through their lives, from Kindergarten to wedding days.

With this being our attitude, we’ve looked into many integrative treatments. Ones that give hope to Suz’s future and the best chance of her being cancer-free. However, many of these treatments are not available in the public system here in Australia, and they come at a great cost. We have been communicating with several cancer-clinics overseas which offer their patients the most advanced range of personalized treatment approaches. These clinics use cutting-edge developments in medicine to work in synergy with conventional treatments, and these strategies can differ from country to country due to which drugs are (or are not) approved. Some of the clinics that have accepted our initial application have fees exceeding $100,000 for the treatments Suz needs. It has been highly-recommended, by both our conventional and integrative medical teams, that Suz undergo immediate and radical radiation and chemo treatments here in Brisbane to stop this aggressive disease from spreading any further.  These treatments are set to start on 11 January. We are both ready and nervous for these treatments to begin. But it’s our first step and we know we have to take it to get to the next step and the same for each step after that.

Well, that’s our journey to date. While from the moment of diagnosis, this felt like the murky waters of chaos, still, we’ve seen God’s creative hand beginning to bring order to this difficult process. As I mentioned, Suz starts radiation and chemo on the 11th of January and it is our goal for Suz to undergo further, more in-depth, integrative, and personalized treatments to give her the best chance of life beyond this nasty disease of cancer.

We are, and continue to be, humbled by the love, kindness, and generosity that has been shown to us throughout this journey. We love and are grateful for you all!
Grace and peace,
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Tina Skinner 
Joyner QLD
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