As Aussie mum Susan Cox looks down at baby Levi, surrounded by his brothers and sister, she knows one thing – diagnosed with ‘incurable’ breast cancer, she will do whatever it takes so her children won’t have to grow up without their mother.
Two years ago, when Susan found a lump on her breast which a biopsy confirmed as Invasive Ductal Carcinoma - a high-grade, super-aggressive form of breast cancer - she underwent a double mastectomy thought to be the best way to reduce the risk of the cancer returning.
However just after the birth of her third child Levi she got the devastating news the cancer had in fact returned and was now ‘incurable’.
“I just can’t get my head around this being the end of my journey,” Suz, from Brisbane, tells Be.
“I want to be there to watch my children discover their dreams and goals. I want to be there through every tear and heartache.”
Susan remembers how surreal things felt when she was first diagnosed in 2015 and says the decision to undergo surgery was huge.
“When you’re young and you feel fit and healthy, you don’t really think something like this will happen to you,” she tells us.
“But my worst fear was that the cancer might come back."
“I had always heard that it’s so much harder to overcome cancer the second time around, and knowing that I was about to bring another life into the world made the thought of it returning even worse.
“Philip and I fell apart together the night we found out. It was devastating.”
Suz and hubby Philp’s had already been dealt more heartbreak when they suffered the “excruciating loss” of their third child, the year after Suz had been given the initial all-clear by doctors.
Alivia Hope was stillborn in September 2016, but the parents were able to say their goodbyes, something they are both grateful for.
Looking to start afresh things seemed to finally be looking up when they fell pregnant with Levi, but it was during this pregnancy that Suz started experiencing pain.
Only six weeks after giving birth she was diagnosed with stage four cancer. It had now invaded her breastbone and crept into the outer lining of her lung and heart.
“As of now we haven't been given an exact time-frame, only that this cancer is stage 4, incredibly aggressive and very difficult to treat,” Philip tells Be.
“I continue to be blown away by this amazing woman who I, somehow, talked into marrying me. I have seen her endure some of life's most devastating blows with a grace and steadiness.”
Desperate to see her children grow up, Suz and Philip have researched alternative treatments and stumbled across an innovative cancer clinic in Germany.
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The clinics use cutting-edge developments in medicine which are not yet seen on Australian soil, but it will cost them at least $100,000 to make that a possibility. Desperate to help a family friend has set up a GoFundme campaign to raise money for the family.
Suz, who is set to start radiation and chemotherapy this week, which she will do every day for the next seven weeks, says seeing her children – Aria, four, Porter, three, Levi and stepson Dylan, 10 – grow up is her biggest motivation to fight.
“They mean everything to me,” Suz says. "My beautiful children have been my biggest motivation to stay strong through everything.
“This has put so many things into perspective and has really made us strip down life to focus on the things that really matter.
“I put my kids to bed every night and cherish just getting to lay next to them and tell them how proud I am of them, how special they are and how deeply they are loved. I’m just thankful I’m still here to experience it all.”
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