Breast cancer survivor inspires those fighting the same battle

Breast cancer survivor inspires those fighting the same battle

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - A stroll across the University of Toledo brings back cherished memories for Teresa Sutter.

"It's been a long time since I've been on the campus," Sutter said.

While she learned a lot about life during her days at UT, there was no text book or class that could prepare her for the major test she would face years after graduation.

"I felt something odd and painful, and knew that was not a good thing," Sutter explained.

She was right. Doctors would soon diagnose her with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

"It was a whirlwind at that point, biopsy, then surgery and then learning the devastation of needing chemo," said Teresa.

At 49 years old, Teresa was now in the fight for her life and would have to break that news to her two daughters as well as her husband, who was deployed in Afghanistan.

"It was a tough road for all of us, my heart broke for her," said Sutter's daughter Caitlin Spika.

Teresa's diagnoses was blindsiding. She had been perfectly healthy, done regular self breast exams and had no family history of cancer.

"You just want to know what you did wrong and what else might be going on in my body that I might have missed," Teresa said.

Teresa had to undergo two intense surgeries to remove three tumors.

She then underwent six months of chemo at ProMedica's Hickman Cancer Center, followed by breast reconstruction.

"She really didn't have a negative thought about the whole thing. She knew she was going to get through it. There was just no question about it," said friend Julie Dangelo.

Teresa did get through it, with the help of doctors and the emotional support of family and friends.

She is now cancer-free.

"Most people wouldn't know if they saw me or talked to me that I'm a breast cancer survivor. I kicked cancer's butt!" Teresa said.

It's a badge of strength and honor that Teresa wears proudly.

"She's not only cancer-free, but she's such an advocate for breast cancer and other types of cancer. It's awesome seeing her take such a negative time in her life and make such a positive out of it," Spika said.

Teresa has been in remission for six years, and knows there's a chance the cancer could return someday.

That isn't stopping her from looking ahead or pushing for a cure.

"It's touching way too many lives. My mother-in-law is a two-time cancer survivor. She just had a recurrence. 23 years ago she had a mastectomy and just three weeks ago, again," Theresa said.

That's why she, like thousands of others, supports the efforts of Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio.

"We want a cure. We want to find out why this is happening to so many people," Teresa said.

She has advice for all women, even those who have never been touched by breast cancer.

"Put yourself first when it comes to your health. Don't dismiss those signs and symptoms," she said.

The life-changing experience brought Teresa closer to those she loves. Many plan to join her as she races for a cure.

"I'm going to do the parade this years. I've never done the parade, the survivors' parade," Teresa said.

She is a survivor built tough, with no plans to slow down.

Teresa will also run in the Race for the Cure on Sunday in downtown Toledo, with family and friends by her side.

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