Breast Cancer in the Rear-view Mirror

Susie Desilets - Breast Cancer Survivor

Two years breast cancer-free – those are the words Susie Desilets, YMCA Human Resources Director, says proudly.  But it wasn’t an easy journey to get here – for any cancer patient, it never is.  

Most breast cancers are found in women aged 50 years or older, according to the CDC. But we now know that breast cancer can also affect women in their 20s and 30s – or in Susie’s case – 38.  It was in 2019 through a self-check that she was able to find a lump. Nearly 10 percent of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age.

“I want people to understand that no matter what sort of lifestyle you live, cancer can happen to anyone. That’s why it’s critical that you pay close attention and listen to your body,” Susie said. 

Prior to Susie’s diagnosis, she lived an active lifestyle. She and her family took jiu-jitsu classes, she was an avid runner, exercised often, and ate a healthy diet – all the things doctors tell us are important to do. Still, she became one of 264,000 women who become diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the United States. 

But Susie never let her cancer stop her – throughout her treatment, she continued to run – she said it gave her a sense of release. 

“There were days that I didn’t feel my best or like myself, but I knew I had to do something to make my day feel as normal as possible, for me that was running,” Susie said. “Whatever it is for you, do it. It helps you focus on something positive.” 

After chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, and radiation treatment, her final surgery was in August 2020. Since, she has completed a Dallas Marathon and has gotten back to the things she loves – spending quality time with her family and staying active. This fall, Susie and her family went to see famous guitarist, Steve Vai, in concert. 

“I want those who are currently fighting cancer to know that they’re not alone and to lean on those you care about,” Susie said. “The support I gained helped me to stay strong and look ahead, and I never lost sight of that.” 

WATCH Susie’s story here


October is dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness, but women and men should perform monthly self-checks, in addition to regular mammograms when of age. The CDC says people can experience different symptoms of breast cancer or none at all. It’s important to speak to your healthcare provider about what is right for you. Some signs to be mindful of when self-examining include: 

  • New lump in the breast or around the armpit
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
  • Pulling in the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
  • Any change in the size or shape of the breast.
  • Pain in any area of the breast.

Please visit the CDC website to learn more and always speak to your doctor about your health concerns. 


The YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas developed a 12-week program through the LIVESTRONG Foundation designed to get survivors back on their feet. The small-group program assists those who are living with, through, or beyond cancer to strengthen their spirit, mind and body. To join the program, click here.