Suzanne Fonseca lost her grandmother to breast cancer. Her mother is an 18-year survivor. Suzanne had been going for regular mammograms since the age of 35 because of very dense and fibrous breasts, and they always came back normal. But with a family history of breast cancer, she and her sister Valerie decided to undergo genetic testing. They both tested positive—not for the widely-known BRCA gene, but for the Check2 and MUTYH mutations, which are also indicators of a high risk for developing breast cancer.
It was recommended that Suzanne have a breast MRI, which revealed a lump that was not seen on her regular mammogram. On June 16, 2017, she was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer, at the age of 38. Because of her genetic propensity, her doctors recommended that they treat her disease aggressively. Suzanne elected to have a double mastectomy, with reconstructive surgery on the same day. Radiation and chemotherapy weren’t required, but she will be taking Tamoxifen for the next 10 years.
Suzanne says that her support system—her family, her husband Vic and her son Sal have been amazing, and she would have been lost without them. Especially her husband, who has been her rock, and who, she says, “lets me cry it out, and then he dusts me off and lifts me back up.”
Awareness and action saved Suzanne’s life. She says that if she hadn’t gone for genetic testing, she wouldn’t have had a breast MRI, and they never would have found the tumor. In October of 2017, Suzanne lost her best friend to colorectal cancer after a three-year battle with the disease. It was a very tough time for her. She made up her mind to keep doing things, and become involved in any way she could to help fight cancer. She searched online to join a walk, and found Komen North Jersey.
She immediately signed up, started a team, and called all her friends. She recruited 32 people for her team and raised almost $13,000 for the 2018 Komen North Jersey Race for the Cure. Her team, Suzanne’s Breast Friends, was the top fundraiser in our Friends & Family category.
“The race was a fantastic experience,” she says. “I didn’t realize how hard it would all hit me, standing on the stage as a survivor, being in the procession. I always try to be ‘wonder woman.’ My son always calls me that. Up on the stage with all the other survivors, it suddenly felt okay to let it out, to get emotional. You look in the eyes of all these other survivors and you just KNOW. They understand. It’s like a comfort blanket.”
Now, she says, she’s the “newest warrior in the fight against breast cancer.” And indeed she is. Suzanne already has a facebook page up for the 2019 Race and is sending out messages. Her goal? For 2019, she’s set her sights on raising $20,000!
A resident of Carlstadt, Suzanne is big on volunteering. She is heavily involved in Carlstadt Soccer and is on the board (she used to be a coach). In her leisure time, she enjoys boating (they have a pontoon on Greenwood Lake), cooking and hanging with family, friends and her two dogs.
”I am now in a new journey of my life. I’m not going to sit around and let life pass me by. My passion is to do whatever I can to educate and bring awareness to the terrible disease of breast cancer. Things could have been horrible, and I’m glad to be alive—I never leave the house without my smile.”
Suzanne isn’t giving up, and neither are we. Breast cancer kills more than 41,000 people each year in the U.S. That’s unacceptable. Help us meet our goal to reduce breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by half by 2026.
JOIN OUR FIGHT. SAVE LIVES. DONATE NOW.