Longtime cancer survivor reminds others to schedule routine screenings

Early detection can increase chance for survival

Of the many things delayed by the COVID pandemic, cancer screenings were among the most critical.

DETROIT – Of the many things delayed by the COVID pandemic, cancer screenings were among the most critical.

The American Cancer Society said millions of people missed routine screenings and have yet to reschedule them.

Thelma Suson remembers the moment she was first told that she had breast cancer.

“My concept was that cancer equals death so with that frame of mind it was very depressing,” Suson said.

Her mindset was changed when she met cancer survivors for the first time at a Relay for Life fundraiser.

“For me it was like a switch that said, ‘Oh my God. I’m not going to die. I’m going to be able to make this,’” Suson said.

Suson is now a grandmother and has been cancer-free for 21 years. She has spent the last two decades organizing her own Relay for Life events. She even recruited Delta Airlines to join the cause and raised millions for the American Cancer Society.

Jeff Fehlis, with the American Cancer Society, said hearing from survivors is critical. It can convince someone to get screened, something millions of Americans put off during the COVID pandemic.

“If you think about screening for breast cancer, for cervical, for colorectal, for lung, those are critical. Those screenings can prevent or detect cancers early enough where you can treat them and your survivorship chances are so much greater,” Fehlis said.

For Suson, early detection saved her life and inspired a lifetime of fighting for others. A free 24-hour cancer helpline that provides support and resources can be reached at 1-800-227-2345.

Read: More health coverage

About the Authors:

You can watch Kimberly Gill weekdays anchoring Local 4 News at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and streaming live at 10 p.m. on Local 4+. She's an award-winning journalist who finally called Detroit home in 2014. Kim has won Regional Emmy Awards, and was part of the team that won the National Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast in 2022.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.