Never Give Up

I’m a Devoted Wife, Mother and Grandmother – Published Author (The Dream Lived) – Former Professional Cheerleader (Raiderette) and Cancer Survivor.

“I feel every one of us was born with a gift, a talent. Listen to your soul, find your talent and bring it to action in your life today.”

​I captured the attention of many on a national level dancing as a professional cheerleader in the NFL during the 2011-2012 season for the Oakland Raiders as a Raiderette. ​”I pushed, I conquered, I never gave up – I reached my full potential, I reached my dream.” I began writing my memoir, The Dream Lived in 2013 and had it published in 2014. The Dream lived is a true, inspirational story that demonstrates hope, determination and the magic of knowing what life is like when you live your dreams. The Dream Lived is an example and a reality that all dreams are attainable.
​”Make a thought a binary moment and see it through.”

​In March of 2021, I was diagnosed with anal cancer caused by the HPV virus. As a cancer survivor, I’m passionate and find it imperative to share my story to the world. I want to provide awareness, education and knowledge regarding anal cancer, HPV and the HPV vaccine to as many as I can. Protecting future generations from this deadly virus with the HPV vaccine is a must. Sadly, this vaccine wasn’t developed or around when I was growing up. I was diagnosed with Anal Cancer on March 18th 2021. It all began with a ‘booty itch’ in August of 2020. We are all home working in our new ‘home environment workstations’ due to Covid and I recall my butt itching often, especially at night. I thought maybe it was from wearing my bathing suit too long in the day hours as I juggled professional work as well as backyard fun with grandkids in the pool during the early months of the pandemic.

I’d just had my yearly girly check-up in June 2020. I had a clean/clear HPV and pap test and I’ve never had a bad one. My OBGYN had just performed a digital rectal exam that June, I’ve never had an issue back there before. Then in late November 2020 after going to the bathroom and wiping, I saw a small amount of blood. It concerned me as I still had this booty itch. I returned to my OBGYN and told him what was going on, I assume it was a hemorrhoid though I’d never had one. He checked and said it was a small fissure from a bowel movement. He prescribed me an ointment and I was on my way. The ointment never worked and then in January of 2021, I had a show of blood again but this time I looked for a more specific doctor who could work with fissures, and I came across Dr. Parrish out of Los Gatos, CA. He was a proctologist (I had no idea what kind of Dr. that was or meant) and scheduled an appointment with him.

On that first visit, things happened quickly. Dr. Parrish said it was an abnormal fissure. He tested me for many STD’s; I thought that was odd then he asked me when my last rectum pap smear was for the HPV virus. HPV in my butt, a pap smear in my butt? I’d never heard of such a thing, I told him. He ran that test and did a small biopsy that day in the office and five days later on March 18th, 2021, I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the anal region from the HPV virus (P16 strain) – Anal Cancer. That evening, that phone call and the words from Dr. Parrish confirming the biopsy to me by far was the worst moment in my life. My mind went blank, my ears closed and I melted down the wall and sunk into the earth. Life stopped. Everything stopped.

The moment and days after the diagnosis were filled with appointments, scans, pokes, and discussions with SOOO many people. Telling all your friends, family, the company you work for plus co-workers. I didn’t really have time to get sad, mad, or scared – there was just too much to do and get done.
I was diagnosed with stage 2 anal cancer – no lymph nodes exposed, thank God. My treatment plan began on Monday, May 17th and ended on Thursday, June 24th. It was six weeks plan of radiation therapy with concurrent chemo treatment of Xeloda (pill form of 5-FU) + Mitomycin C IV (twice). It was the worst six weeks/28 days of my life. I was never able to receive the 2nd Mitomycin C IV on day 29 as my wbc was too low to administer the treatment to me.

Recovering from anal cancer is tough. The treatment plan for anal cancer patients, for almost six weeks (28 days) however the following two weeks are so intense, painful, and exhausting. Your body is completely flattened to zero. My energy was absolutely gone, the wounds/burns are so painful, raw, and sensitive and you’re completely just done with the entire experience. ..and then all of a sudden, it’s over!!! There’s life after your last treatment day. There’s life as you’re recovering. You come to an understanding of a new place of a new normal. My Life after cancer is a new place for me. I just received that first call and results from my first MRI showing no cancer was detected and I’m in remission. This is such amazing news!!! I’m coming to a new place in this entire cancer journey which is now what I call processing. I’m just now waking up and looking back/reflecting on what just happened to me. You see, I had no time for this at the beginning, during treatment or even soon after during recovery but I’m beginning to be in this place now. My new life is unfolding itself in front of me now. I’m overly thankful and grateful just to be alive. #keepliving

​From Living The Dream to Cancer Survivor – there’s been many pivotal moments of glory, setbacks, accomplishments and realities that I have faced, experienced and dealt with throughout my life.

​ ~ Never Give Up & Live Your Dreams ~
Photo credit: Images provided by the storyteller.

Story shared by...

Susie Sanchez