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Suzanne Griffin was having the time of her life on vacation at the beach. She just wanted to make one last adjustment to her swimsuit before slathering on the sunscreen and settling in with a book. At that moment, the biggest dilemma she faced was where the family would eat dinner that night.

But cancer changes everything in an instant.

While making that swimsuit adjustment, Suzanne felt something that wasn’t quite right. Is that a lump? How long has it been there? A thousand more questions flashed through her mind as she stood on that vast, radiant beach. She didn’t have any answers, but she had a feeling her life wasn’t going to be the same after that moment.

“I had a lumpectomy to confirm the pathology was cancer,” Suzanne remembers. “That was followed by two more surgeries to assess whether the cancer had made it to my lymph nodes – it had – and to clean the margins.”

She was lucky to have caring doctors that she trusted, and even more fortunate to have a supportive family: “My two sons were young at the time, but they were incredibly strong and supportive through my treatment. We named my wig ‘Lucille’ and threw a celebration party on the one-year anniversary of my diagnosis.”

The Kay Yow Cancer Fund: A Network of Support 

Beyond her family, Suzanne also considers the Kay Yow Cancer Fund (KYCF) instrumental in her battle against breast cancer. “I was fortunate enough to once see Kay Yow as a keynote speaker at a fundraiser and I was moved to tears by her powerful story,” Suzanne says. “After Kay passed away, I attended a golf outing – I’d already noticed my lump, but I hadn’t received a diagnosis yet – and I saw the camaraderie and support of Kay’s peers, players, doctors and friends. It was very moving. The spirit and the impact of the KYCF really appealed to me. The positive outlook, the contributions to research and the engagement with communities are all very important to me.”

Skiing together. Image: Susanne Griffin

Playing Fearless on the slopes — as a family. Image: Suzanne Griffin

Suzanne became a strong supporter of the KYCF, and her two sons enthusiastically joined her: “My sons have organized wear-pink campaigns in October for their respective football teams and we always look forward to attending events that support the KYCF.”

During her treatment and ever since, Suzanne has seized a Live Fearless attitude: “During my treatment, I continued to run, completing 5k’s and a memorable half-marathon,” she says. “When my brothers suggested a less mountainous location for our annual ski trip due to my chemotherapy, my sons and I decided to return to Jackson Hole as usual and we skied hard each day. To me, we ‘live fearless’ by enjoying God’s great outdoors as a family.”

Suzanne’s involvement with the KYCF provides her with opportunities to share a message of hope with others who are facing their own battles against cancer.

“There is no denying the course of cancer treatment is extremely difficult,” Suzanne reflects. “But I think having and keeping a level of fitness during treatment is a huge benefit. During treatment, if I could run, I ran. If I could only walk, I walked. Whatever I could do, I did it – that kept me going on spiritual, mental and physical levels. It reminded me of the power of the body and the beauty of the world.”

Suzanne was right – her life had changed dramatically in that moment on the beach. It was the moment she pledged to Live Fearless.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) wants to help all North Carolinians Live Fearless – and help four deserving charitable organizations serving our state. Between now and March 8, NCAA basketball fans can support their favorite North Carolina-based ACC team – Duke, NC State, UNC and Wake Forest – by visiting our Play Fearless website and taking the Live Fearless pledge to live life by working hard, playing hard and being your best. On the site, cast a vote for your favorite team and its designated charity – Duke/Duke Children’s Hospital, NC State/Kay Yow Cancer Fund, UNC/UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Wake Forest/Brenner Children’s Hospital. The school with the most votes earns its charity a cash donation from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

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You don’t have to be a BCBSNC customer to participate – just visit PlayFearless.com and take the pledge. Remember, the deadline is March 8!

Chris Privett

About Chris Privett

Chris Privett is a communications specialist at BCBSNC, assisting the company’s leaders with speeches and presentations. Chris has a particular interest in sharing stories about BCBSNC’s role as a committed partner in North Carolina’s communities. His communications career began in 1990 in television news, later transitioning to public relations roles in nonprofits.