A WARRINGTON cancer survivor is to feature on a Mother’s Day card sold in supermarkets across the nation to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
Suzanne Bell, of Appleton Thorn, has had her inspiring story and photograph included on the card which, it is hoped will connect with and support people affected by the disease, as well as raising funds.
Mum-of-three Suzanne was diagnosed with cancer in early 2019 after discovering a lump in her breast which was the size of a golf ball. She was three months’ pregnant at the time.
Just weeks later, she had a mastectomy to remove her breast, with both she and her unborn baby going under general anaesthetic for the procedure.
Thankfully, the surgery was a success and Suzanne, now 41, is now cancer-free. Her son Theo has also recently celebrated his first birthday.
She is pictured on the Mother’s Day card dressed in a Race for Life t-shirt after taking part in the Race for Life 5K at Tatton Park in 2019.
Suzanne, who is also mum to Sienna, 9, and Grace, 5, said: “I went into shock when the doctor said it was cancer. I just kept saying ‘I can’t have cancer, I’m pregnant’ and it felt like the world was turning upside down.
“I was nervous about having the mastectomy but I knew it was the best thing for the baby and my girls. I was in complete survival mode. The last thing I remember saying to the nurse before I was put to sleep was ‘please look after my baby’ and as she squeezed my hand, she said they would.”
Throughout her ordeal, Suzanne and her partner Craig decided to be honest about everything with her little girls.
She said: “I told them that Mummy had found a lump in her boob and the doctors had decided they were going to get rid of it. Sienna just looked at me and straight away asked ‘mummy have you got breast cancer?’ I was speechless. We have had friends who have had cancer in the past but her ‘matter of fact’ approach made it much easier for me to be honest with them.
“I told them that the doctors were going to take away my boob and put it in the bin. Grace in particular thought this was hilarious and kept saying ‘Mummy’s boob is going in the bin!’”
Her daughters’ upbeat attitude proved to be just the tonic as Suzanne recovered from her operation.
She said: “I worried about how they would react when they saw the mastectomy scar. And I worried about Craig too – after all, it wasn’t what he had signed up for. But they were all absolutely brilliant.
“The girls even decided they would ‘jazz up’ my plaster with lots of Peppa Pig stickers, which again just made me laugh. When I removed the plaster, I was anxious at how they would react, but Sienna just said, ‘it doesn’t matter mummy, you’re still our mummy.’ And Grace’s only concern was that the Peppa Pig stickers had gone in the bin!”
Following her mastectomy Suzanne was given the good news that her cancer hadn’t spread, and she wouldn’t need chemotherapy. And in October that year she underwent a caesarean section and little Theo was born healthy and well.
She said: “Theo really is the most amazing little boy and the girls are besotted with him. I keep looking at my little family and know I have so much to be thankful for.”
Suzanne knows how vital it is to keep raising funds for life-saving research. In 2019, she and her family took part in Race for Life at Tatton Park, along with around 20 friends and family.
She said: “It was a lovely event, really quite emotional. I’d taken part in Race for Life before and never in a million years imagined that I’d be the person with the cancer experience. The girls loved it. Sienna took off like the wind and ran all the way round and Grace and I walked around holding hands.”
Suzanne has recently undergone reconstructive surgery and is now living life cancer-free.
She said: “I still can’t believe everything that’s happened in a year. Without a doubt the girls have certainly helped me through one of the most challenging times. I worried that they would struggle with everything, but they’ve been phenomenal. They’ve blown me away with their maturity and their positivity.
“They are my little heroes. I feel like the luckiest mummy in the world to have three wonderful, healthy, amazing children and an incredibly supportive partner. The last year has certainly made me appreciate the smallest of things, even Peppa Pig plasters!
“Being a mum, I had to keep going because of my kids and the only way I could keep ahead of the situation was to keep smiling and use my humour to get through it.”
COVID-19 has caused a devastating loss of research funding. Cancer Research UK is predicting a staggering £300 million drop in income over the next three years which could put future medical breakthroughs at risk.
That’s why the charity is calling on people across the region to fight back against the devastating disease by purchasing one of the special cards. Money raised will help scientists find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, helping to save more lives.
For further information on Race for Life visit raceforlife.org