Five-year cancer survivor is grateful for every day

National Cancer Survivors Day is the first Sunday in June.

Suzanne Jimenez of Quartz Valley, California, recently celebrated her fifth year of life after learning she had stage IV advanced endometrial cancer. “That’s a long time,” she says. “I’m awfully glad we made the decisions we made.”

The avid genealogist, mother to four children, grandmother to four and great grandmother to six, had been hiding her excruciating symptoms for quite some time, fearing the worst. But hiding became impossible that day in 2019 when she lost consciousness in the office of the family business. Her husband, Sam, rushed her from their home in Quartz Valley, California, to the nearest hospital, 30 miles away in Yreka. There, she underwent emergency surgery.

In her fragile state, success was unlikely. The procedure was expected to be two hours and lasted seven. When she woke, her physician shared the news she hoped to never hear, “You have cancer.”

With stage IV advanced endometrial cancer, Suzanne entered a skilled nursing facility for what was expected to be her last two to four months of life.

Then she was referred to Asante and to Dr. Mujahid Rizvi of Hematology Oncology Associates. With clinical partnerships linking Suzanne to specialists in gynecological oncology and genetics, the Asante and HOA team was her best hope. “I had all the right people – everything lined up,” she says.

Making her own decisions about her course of treatment was important to Suzanne. Genetic testing revealed that she was a good candidate for immunotherapy, which she began under the careful guidance of Dr. Rizvi and Advanced Practice Provider Christopher Crum. “They are a powerhouse team!”

Sharing her story with the Asante Foundation in 2022, Suzanne reflected on how far she had come since her cancer diagnosis: “Christmas is very special to me. The first year, I asked Dr. Rizvi, ‘Will I still be here for Christmas?’ and he said, ‘We’ll see.’

“The second year I asked him, ‘Can I plan for Christmas?’ and he said, ‘Yes, I think so.’

“This year, I didn’t have to ask. He told me, “You can put Christmas on your calendar.”

Suzanne says she would not be here without Asante. “Everything that I have, everything is because of Asante. From all the lab techs who have taken extra care to be as gentle as possible with me to every nurse who has treated me with kindness, excellent care and most of all, made me laugh, my team has done everything to let me have all this.”

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Asante Walk for Hope

Celebrate with cancer survivors at this year’s Walk for Hope, scheduled for Oct. 5 at the Heimann Cancer Center in Medford. Register to walk or volunteer by Sept. 20 to receive a free T-shirt.