Photo by: Amy Guth

Cancer Makes Me Angry: One Mom's Fight

by Susan Niebur
Photo by: Amy Guth

Three years ago today, I heard words no 34 year old mom of two should ever have to hear: you have cancer.

I stared in disbelief, reeling, rejecting the diagnosis even as I heard the words echo in the little room. Cancer is for older people, like my mother-in-law, still reeling from a cancer diagnosis herself just a week earlier. In fact, my husband had just returned from helping her through her own biopsy and lumpectomy, halfway across the country. He held my hand, strong and confident, but I could feel his heart sink next to mine.

The kids—our kids—home with Grammy—what would happen to their childhood? Would they be sentenced to a babyhood indoors with a sick mama? Worse—would they grow up without their mama?

So much went through my head in that first moment. So much worry. So much fear. So much… shock. I had only gone to my ob/gyn in the first place because my baby was still refusing to nurse on the right side. We had been to his pediatrician time after time, to the lactation consultant weekly, but still, no dice. My five-month-old baby steadfastly refused to nurse on the right breast.

It turns out that a newborn rejecting one breast is a sign. It’s called Goldschmidt’s sign. Here are some other signs that something may be wrong with a breast, and that you should get them checked to rule out cancer. 12 signs of breast cancer

I’m now in treatment for a second stage III cancer, or a metastasis of the original inflammatory breast cancer. It doesn’t matter which one, really, both are hard enough. The cancer sapped my body of energy over the months it lived in my body, growing and spreading to thirteen lymph nodes under my left armpit. We had it cut out right away and started radiation. Treatment is working, but it’s not a cure. Even the chemotherapy that I start again next month is not a cure.

We need a cure. Cancer sucks. We know that. You know that. But it still makes me angry, as I sit here in my living room watching my children play, helpless to join them on the floor with their matchbox cars or play catch with them in the yard. I want my future back. And it makes me angry.

If cancer makes you angry too, there are things you can do to fight back. You can raise awareness, by posting a link to reminder for your readers to check themselves on your blog today. You can find out more about research studies that are happening online or in your area, and you can join the Love/Avon Army of Women. You can take action by joining the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and making phone calls to your congressional representatives when a cancer issue comes up for a vote. You can take action on this, in your community and in your world.

We need to. We need to FIGHT this beast called cancer, before twenty more moms are diagnosed and their lives changed forever. This isn’t an easy battle, but it’s one I fight every day.

Susan Niebur is an astrophysicist, a mom, and a cancer survivor, blogging her story every day at Toddler Planet and Mothers With Cancer.

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I'm so sorry to hear that you were diagnosed with cancer; however, it sounds like you are beating it and a triumphunt survivor. I volunteered for the American Cancer Society for several years and came on board as staff for them through Relay For Life three years ago. My mom is a 3x survivor having had non-hodgkins lymphoma in her stomach and carcinoma in her breast and spleen...

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hi susan! i don't know you but i feel your heart as i was reading this. a close friend of mine who has 2 young girls is currently battling cancer stage 4. we just gave one of her daughters a birthday party today since she and her husband is in the hospital. cancer makes me angry too. keep sharing your story. i know that it will help other women.

i pray that God will heal you from this ugly thing called cancer.

I agree.I am 39 and was diagnosed with breast cancer in April this year. Going to my third chemo treatment today. Will have 6 times chemo, mastectomy plus lymph nodes removed,and then radiation. My daughter is 2 1/2, and I so hope she does not have to grow up without her mother, I so badly want to around for her for many, many years. Ironic that this post came on today of all days. Pernille.

I had ovarian cancer aged 38 and two further episodes. I am 58 now and have been cancer free for 15 years.
Check out the Oasis of Hope Hospital, Mexico. I have known people who have been treated there with great results. (I didn't know about it when I had my cancer) The medical profession don't want to acknowledge 'natural treatments' but I believe they are worth trying. In my case I believe prayer had a big effect on my journey so I will pray for you Susan.

First off:Kudos for sharing your story with us. I too completely understand hearing those words, only mine were at the age of 28. Also I was told that I would NOT be having children as I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

I remember the water whooosh that I was enveloped in after those words were spoken...I remember hearing like every fourth word here and there. Anger, Pain, Jealousy, Hurt, Failure were all feelings that washed over me within hours of finding out...

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I am also angry with cancer. My Dad passed away from cancer. The hardest thing in my life was to watch him suffer while the cancer ate away at him. I have now become an advocate of chilhood cancer and an inventor of a product, Lounge n Lax, that benefits a child with cancer. It's horrible to see an adult with cancer but imagine a child suffering. That makes me even angrier. You can follow my product and cause at


I applaud you for your strength an courage as you face this battle. I too hate cancer. I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease back in 96 when I was only 21 years old. My cancer has a very high cure rate, 98%. Yet I was still in the 2% that relapsed. I went through a second round of treatment which I was told would cause infertility. At 22 I was fresh out of college, no boyfriend or prospective husband and facing the fact that I would never carry my own children...

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I just lost my mom (age 59) to breast cancer on April 13, 2010, and I am very angry. She was diagnosed in 2006 and went through a year and a half of chemo and then 6 weeks of radiation. Six months later, she was told it had returned in the same breast. She opted to have a double mastectomy and was told she wouldn't need chemo because they were removing all of the breast tissue. Another six months went by and she was told it was in her lungs. She started treatments again in July of 2009...

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Wow, it's hard to hear, it's surreal I just found out about three weeks ago that a dear friend of mine has cancer. It really hit close to home and put things in perspective for you.

Love and healing to you, Susan. It's been seven years since my diagnosis - at age 35, as a mom of a 7 and 3 year old. Women - younger women - need to be aware that this can happen to them, because often younger women are staged later, because they think the signs can't be breast cancer, they're too young, they have no family history and sadly, their doctors often tell them those things, rather than running tests. We must be our own advocates in our healthcare...

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A documentary called Gerson's Miracle changed my life. I found this documentary off of Netflix. I've ordered it through Barnes and Noble but it is on backorder. Dr Gerson had found a cure for cancer and other diseases back in 1928. I'm sure you can look it up on the website. His daughter has a hospital in Mexico named after him. I've cured my headache, backache, acid reflux, and fatigue just by following his way of eating...

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My diagnosis with Stage IIA Hodgkins Lymphoma came the day before my son's second birthday, 2 days before my 33rd birthday, and a few days before my daughter was officially 11 weeks old.

Cancer does suck. Chemo sucks more, in my opinion, though it is the lifeline that gave me hope and changed my perspective on just about everything in life.

I'm sure people on Mamapedia are tired of hearing me mention that I have cancer, but it's relevant...

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My heart sank reading this. Tomorrow is my 2 year anniversary since that dreadful day that I was told I had breast cancer - at 37 years old. I had a 3 year old and a 1.5 year old and was about to start packing my house to move 3500 across the country because my husband got a job transfer. Although I continue to suffer now from ongoing side effects from my radiation that are miserable, I can happily say that I'm cancer free now, but the fear has not gone away, nor do I think it ever will...

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You are so right - cancer sucks. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June of 2008. I have had 2 lumpectomies (with 16 lymph nodes removed) a bi-lateral mastectomy with reconstruction, reconstruction surgery (which didn't work), chemo and radiation. I am on a clinical trial drug and tamoxifen. I have lost the feeling in my left hand. Every day I get myself up and going because of my 2 kids. My son is 10 yrs old and my daughter is 7 yrs old. My family keeps me going...

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All cancers SUCK! We need to help eradicate cancer by being aware of our bodies, decreasing the amount of chemicals we are exposed to both externally and internally. My husband was just diagnosed with leukemia. He is 38. Everyone, donate to the organizations that are funding research to help cure cancer!

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