I treasure the experience


“Something encouraging happened as a result of my getting breast cancer. I consider myself lucky and I treasure the experience,” says Susan Sum.


At the end of 2006 Susan Sum was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is talking today about how incredibly lucky she feels to have had such a positive life-altering experience. If it had not been for her tumour, she says, she would not have realised that she was such a workaholic who did not seem to have the proper balance between work, rest, and diet, and who also overlooked the relationships with her family.


Susan had never performed breast self-examination until she came across a TV advertisement about breast cancer prevention, which prompted her to do a self-check. Unfortunately it resulted in bad news. Susan was soon diagnosed with stage 2A breast cancer, yet the news was not entirely bad: the cancer had shown no sign of spreading.


After hearing this startling news, one would expect Susan to be emotional. But as a businesswoman, she focused on completing her heavy workload and told her family just before being admitted to hospital for surgery. “I was the patient, but I was the one who comforted my family,” Susan said with a smile.

Looking back she says she was “too busy to worry about my condition.”


After surgery, Susan had to keep up a grueling schedule of chemotherapy and radiation. However the side effects of chemotherapy, which are numerous and well publicized among those who have had the treatment, did not affect Susan. She then grew quite suspicious, wondering if the treatment was working. She asked the doctor, “did the chemotherapy fail? Have I eaten something wrong?” But her doctor assured her that with his care combined with her iron will, Susan was recovering, and very quickly too. She even travelled to Japan and Shangdong in between her chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. What an extraordinary patient! Susan says she might be just lucky or perhaps it was her energy and vigor in her career that empowered her to endure the treatment so well.


Upon recovery, Susan decided to establish a healthy lifestyle and a more caring family relationship. Today, Susan radiates vitality and, thankfully, good health, proving that breast cancer should not be feared.


Susan says she is grateful that breast cancer brought her closer to her family. Now, Susan always shares her own story as a breast cancer survivor at the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation’s public education talks to help raise awareness of the importance of early detection in the treatment of breast cancer.