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Powering through

Cancer may have taken a few things from Susan Powers’ life — most notably the loss of her mother from the disease — but eight years into remission this breast cancer survivor opts to focus on all the things cancer did not and cannot take away from her.

“Cancer can’t take away my dreams, my relationships, my personality and my zest for life,” Powers said.

Powers, a trauma nurse at Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, also says cancer gave her something she never expected to find in her life; a big voice. And she’s using that voice to advocate for women’s health and spread a message of positivity.

“You are your best advocate and it’s important to use your voice and be aggressive in your health care,” Powers said.

Powers, now 52, was 43 years old when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. 

“It was the scariest day of my life,” Powers said. “I immediately thought of my family and my two daughters and what would happen to them if I wasn’t around.”

It was a fear Powers understood well. She was 25 years old when she lost her mother to breast cancer. Reflecting on the milestones her own mother was not able to experience with her, Powers was determined to put everything she had into this fight for her life. In just a short amount of time she underwent rounds of chemotherapy and a series of surgeries. Then she had to wait and see if all the efforts were going to lead her to remission.

 “It was the marathon I never signed up to run,” Powers said of her experience. “But I ran it and I crossed that finish line.”

Powers now uses her voice and actions to champion breast cancer awareness. She has served as a motivational speaker for several events including Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

“I felt in my heart that I had a big voice to empower women,” Powers said.

And while Powers keeps her focus on all the things cancer did not take away from her, she knows it is forever a part of her life and she has decided to carry that mantle with pride.

“I’m a mother, daughter, nurse, friend and I am a cancer survivor,” she said. “It’s a title I’ll carry for the rest of my life.”

Powers has created an annual fundraiser with Tresetti’s World Caffe in Modesto to support breast cancer research. This year’s event — Pink Patio Night — will be from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 15.