Suzan Shughart had an extra reason to celebrate on her 60th birthday: It was also her last day of lung cancer treatment at MD Anderson.
It was a day she'd thought might never come. Less than a year earlier, doctors had told Suzan she had 18-24 months to live.
"My brain just said no," she says. "I've got four children. I've got grandchildren. I have a lot of living to do."
A mysterious lung cancer diagnosis
When Suzan had first received her cancer diagnosis, her doctors were stumped. Her test results showed both large and small cell lung cancer, not in her lung but in her chest.
Her doctor suggested that she start treatment and, said that if that didn't work, she could seek a second opinion at MD Anderson. But Suzan decided to skip the first step, instead heading to Houston, home to MD Anderson and one of Suzan's sons.
At MD Anderson, doctors spent a whole day examining Suzan. Then, for the next 30 days, they performed different tests on her, trying to find the best way to defeat her cancer.
Eventually, Suzan received her lung cancer diagnosis: a high-grade neuroendocrine carcinoma, an anterior mediastinal tumor attached to the pericardium, a double-walled sac that holds the heart and aorta. Her treatment was to include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. After undergoing surgery, she was able to return home to Arizona to have her chemotherapy administered.