While on a family vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Aimee Suyko felt a lump on one of her breasts. She had always had cysts that went away and didn’t dwell too much of the lump.
When she got back she already had her annual obstetrician appointment scheduled, and decided to have it checked out then. After a mammogram, ultrasound and MRI, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and early enough that the growth could be taken out with a lumpectomy.
However, with a family history of breast cancer, she decided to have a double mastectomy.
Suyko has been cancer free for more than a year, and still works with her Advocate Good Shepherd doctors by meeting with other women who are about to go through breast cancer treatment. She even spoke at a recent Good Shepherd Survivors Day.
Because of her story and efforts, Suyko was asked by Advocate Health Care to throw out the first pitch Friday at Wrigley Field.
Suyko recently spoke to reporter Joseph Bustos about her bout with cancer.
Bustos: What were you thinking when you were going in for a routine appointment?
Suyko: I really thought it was going to be nothing. I have had several mammograms and ultrasounds done for different cyst-type lumps, and every time I go in they had said “Oh yeah, it’s just your typical cyst.” The radiologist or ultrasound technician would put my mind at ease. This time they didn’t say much during either of the tests ...Then the radiologist came in, and they almost made me think it almost wasn’t anything. They said “It’s probably something pre-cancerous, but it’s maybe something you’ll want to have removed because it could lead to cancer. ... But we want to get you in for a biopsy.” ... When the actual doctor [returned] the call, I knew it probably isn’t good news. She had told me it was breast cancer.
Bustos: Were you in a state of shock?
Suyko: I was. I think I was kind of numb to it. Even the night, I got a phone call, I was suppose to go into work that night, I called my business partner, ... I can’t come teach tonight, I just got this phone call ... I ended up just going in because I didn’t know what to do with myself.
Bustos: You were a candidate for a lumpectomy. Why did you choose the double mastectomy?
Suyko: Knowing that I had some cysts and lumps before, I just didn’t want to worry about it anymore. I’m 40 years old at the time. If I’ve already got breast cancer, what are the chances in the next 40 years of a re-occurrence? Probably pretty high. I just thought, I’ve got really young kids, I want to make it though this, and I don’t want anything to come back. I just want them to get everything out ... for me it wasn’t a good option to do the lumpectomy.
Bustos: What is your motivation to share your story?
Suyko: If I could help with the awareness out there. I know I have a ton of friends who ... have a family history of breast cancer and have not gone in to get mammogram themselves. If I could make an impression on anyone, if I can relieve some fear out of someone, to make them think “I could go, [and] have things looked at. Even if I’m diagnosed, I’m going to be OK.” Early detection, ... it makes me feel everything I went through was worth something then.
Bustos: You’ve had conversation with your daughter and your sister about what you went through. What have you talked to them about?
Suyko: Well my sister was more about she needed to be more proactive in her care. I don’t think she was going as frequently as she should. And with her being a nurse, when I was diagnosed she went in and said, “I want this, I want that, you’re going to do this, you’re going to do the three-dimension one.” ... It took her to the other extreme, but her doctor is very receptive of it. With my daughter ... she’s like “Am I going to get it?” ... I always tell her, you’re going to have to be aware of it, let your doctor know this happened, give yourself checks, you’re just going to have be careful. Be proactive if something comes up, you’ll catch it early and you’ll be fine.”
The Aimee Suyko lowdown
Who is she: A personal trainer, who is also a breast cancer survivor
Town: Unincorporated Lake County near Cary
Family: She and her husband Mike have 12-year-old triplets: Ainslie, Parker and Colin.
Favorite Book: “Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer
Favorite food: Sushi