The Day the Cancer Returned

Sue Hewitson smiling while standing outdoors.

“The pain in my side was excruciating. I thought my appendix had burst.”

In 2013, Sue Hewitson of Jerseyville awoke to such extreme pain that she decided to visit the Emergency Department in Brantford. An ultrasound revealed that a tumour was growing in her kidney. She was diagnosed with a type of cancer called renal cell carcinoma.

“I was determined not to let cancer interfere with my life,” says Sue. “My kids needed me, so leaving them wasn’t even an option as far as I was concerned.”

The fight begins

Sue underwent surgery in Brantford to have her kidney removed and no signs of cancer were found after the operation.

“I assumed that my cancer was cured,” recalls Sue. “Unfortunately, that didn’t end up being the case.”

She returned to the hospital every six months for follow-up appointments. During one such appointment in 2017, a CT scan revealed the presence of several small tumours in her lung. The cancer had returned and was spreading. For the next stages of her care, she required the expertise of the specialized team at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre.

Journey to Juravinski

Sue was placed under the care of Dr. Sébastien Hotte and his oncology team. After a biopsy was taken, it was determined that she qualified for a clinical trial being conducted by Dr. Hotte. Sue agreed to participate in the study, which involves a regimen of oral chemotherapy and infusions of medication to boost her immune system.

“I’m not letting cancer define me.”

“The major side effect is extreme fatigue, but I’m still able to work full-time through my treatment,” says Sue. “I’m just grateful for the chance to participate in this clinical trial, which is giving me a new lease on life.”

Today and tomorrow

Sue is still in active treatment and she is responding well to the targeted therapy. Her tumours shrunk considerably and she is optimistic about the future.

“I’m making the most of every day I can spend with my family and friends. I’m not letting cancer define me, and my loved ones continue to give me strength as my journey continues.”