Faces of a Warrior: Bethany Reeb-Sutherland

Stories of Surviving and Thriving

May 15, 2017

Age: 38
Profession: Assistant Professor at FIU
Type of Breast Cancer: Estrogen Receptor Positive/Luminal A
Year of Diagnosis: 2016
Number of Years as a Survivor: 1 year
Relationship to Susan G. Komen: Volunteer

On April 7, 2016, a little over 2 weeks after having my second child, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 ER+ breast cancer. This seemed almost impossible to me. At 37 years of age, not only was told that I “too young” to have breast cancer but I had no family history of breast cancer, or cancer of any type. To say that I was shocked by the news is a complete understatement.

The first month after my diagnosis was the toughest – worrying about how I was going to take care of my newborn and his 3-year-old brother during treatment and whether I would be around for them in the years to come. But as I learned more about breast cancer and as I began my treatment, I started to change my perspective on the disease. I learned that although it is tough dealing with a cancer diagnosis, having this disease wasn’t a death sentence and that I can use my experience to live a better life for as long as I can – and I plan for that to be a very long time.

My family and friends were a huge help during my treatment which included 5 months of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and lymph node removal, and 29 rounds of radiation. My mom helped with the boys and housework, my husband went to all of my doctor and chemo appointments, my mother-in-law came from Ohio and stayed for several weeks, and my friends paid for housecleaning services.

But I have to say that taking care of my two young boys was the biggest help and actually a blessing during my treatment. Not only did they provide me with the motivation to keep “fighting” breast cancer, but they also provided me with the mental reprieve that I needed to have some moments not to think about my cancer and to focus my thoughts and energy on something more positive and nothing is more positive than spending time with and caring for your family. 

As of September 28, 2016, I am proud to say that I am cancer free! Having to take this journey with breast cancer at such an early age has taught me that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was. In addition, I learned to change my perspective on life. Little things don’t bother me anymore. If I know I can’t change something, especially things that happened in the past, I don’t allow myself to ruminate on it. I take everything day by day and try to stop and enjoy little things that I used to take for granted – like living somewhere that I can wear shorts in the middle of winter.

Although I would never want to have breast cancer and still think about its potential recurrence, I think the experience has changed my life for the better. I have complete faith that my life is exactly where it is supposed to be.

About the Faces of a Warrior Campaign

In 2015, to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Race for the Cure®, Susan G. Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale teamed with 101.5 LITE FM to launch the Faces of a Warrior campaign. 

To mark the 22nd Annual Race for the Cure®, Komen is spotlighting 22 survivors to represent each year the Race has run. These individuals are sharing their stories of strength and resilience -- not just of surviving breast cancer, but thriving in spite of it.

Read the stories of more Warriors here

For more information on the Faces of a Warrior campaign -- and other ways you can get involved in the Race for the Cure® -- please email race@komenmiaftl.org or call 954-909-0454