Breast cancer facts
Nearly 247,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Of that number, more than 40,000 will die.
According to the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network, 20 to 30 percent of all breast cancer will become metastatic, meaning that the cancer cells will travel to other areas of the woman’s body.
Pinking of the canal
To kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Indianapolis Colts will host a pinking of the Downtown Canal at the Ohio Street Basin from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday.
The free event will feature live music and the giveaway of Colts pink posters.
By Sherri Coner
Southsider Voice correspondent
When she opens her eyes in the morning, “It is another day to harass my children,” Suzy Faulkner says with a giggle.
Yes, she thinks about how much time she has left in the world.
But she rarely allows that thought to hang around for very long in her mind.
After all, now is now.
Now, she spends a lot of time with her children, Matt Faulkner of Greenwood and Kerri Hartwell of Franklin.
Now, she and her best friend plan to see autumn on the East Coast.
Now, she loves to decorate her home, sip coffee on the deck with her dog, Daisy, nearby.
Now, it is a priority to make memories with her only grandchild.
Now is now.
And then is … well then is out of her control, anyway.
She wears a stylish haircut and impeccable make-up, fashionable clothing and a nearly constant smile.
At first glance it might not seem possible.
“Outwardly, no one would ever have a clue about what I am going through,” Faulkner said.
What she is going through, however, is stage IV metastatic breast cancer.
Her first chapter with breast cancer began on Christmas Eve in 1998.
At that time Faulkner was 50. She and her husband, Virgil, still shared the Greenwood home where they raised their children. Life had only recently given them more time to garden and ride Virgil’s beloved motorcycle.
Breast cancer took up a lot of her energy and faith. Luckily, Faulkner had plenty of both.
After facing a grueling yearlong bout with chemotherapy, radiation, a bone marrow transplant and the loss of her right breast, she fully recovered.
Parts of her life remained the same. For example, she continued to work as the human resources director at an Indianapolis law firm, and she and Virgil continued to laugh often. As always, they handled the hiccups of life with humor.
Faulkner also made time to volunteer for Race for the Cure. She made time to listen patiently and offer hope and understanding to women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.
As a grateful survivor of this disease, which will strike one in eight women in her lifetime, Faulkner happily took on that role of advocate.
In 2006 she lost her beloved husband to a lengthy illness.
In 2013 that old book about life with breast cancer was reopened.
There was no warning, really.
A routine colonoscopy led to heartbreak.
The breast cancer was back.
“The cancer was growing around my colon,” Faulkner said. “It’s growing on my organs. It’s in my bones. I’m terminal.”
As tears briefly filled her eyes, Faulkner sighed and cocked her head to the side.
“That’s my story and I’m sticking to it,” she said with a smile and a shrug.
Her doctors are amazed that she can still get around so well, Faulkner said proudly.
Daily, she takes oral chemotherapy. Every four weeks she goes into the doctor’s office for chemotherapy injections.
“I’ve always had a high tolerance for pain,” Faulkner said. “I’m just blessed. And I’m a tough old broad.”
Last year, this spunky woman finally retired. “I figured 71 was long enough to work.”
Yes, she wonders sometimes if she will open her eyes tomorrow. But she tries not to think about it much.
“Virgil is up there in the sky saying, ’Oh for God’s sake, I was married to her for 45 years. Give me a little more time.’ ”