Cancer, an Afterword

When a doctor went from physician to patient, she needed more than her practice to get her through.

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    Susan Sleep

I am a Southern California local, born and raised in Long Beach and educated at USC for both undergraduate and medical school. I trained at Harbor/UCLA and St. Mary’s Medical Center. I have an incredible medical practice in both Los Alamitos and Long Beach, and live with my family in Palos Verdes.

I have been so fortunate, even when I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. My partner, my daughter, my parents, my friends and my patients were all incredibly supportive. Surgeries, chemo, etc. are a challenge but doable when you know your options are limited and you need to do what you need to do and just keep moving forward.

I look back and know that a community of women with shared experiences would have been of tremendous value. For those going through cancer with less support than I had, a community of shared experiences is priceless.

"I am so pleased to be a new board member of this unique and inspiring organization."

To that end, Cancer Support Community Redondo Beach is an organization that is available to everyone impacted by cancer in the South Bay and surrounding areas. They are the go-to resource for anyone who needs support and a community that understands. Not only do they provide shared experiences and insight, they have programs for the entire family—at no cost to the participant whatsoever.

I am so pleased to be a new board member of this unique and inspiring organization. I will also speak on behalf of Cancer Support Community at their upcoming Girls Night Out fundraiser held October 4–6 at The Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach. I hope to continue to both give and get support from this wonderful group.

At my first meeting with the Cancer Support Community, some fellow survivors mentioned that after treatment, they felt a flurry of activity: being very busy, saying yes to everything and having new adventures and trying new things. Hearing this, I suddenly understood myself better.

After my treatment, I planned an extensive European vacation and added medical and cosmetic dermatology training to my 25-year internal medicine practice. In addition to being board-certified in internal medicine, I am completing board certification in aesthetic medicine and have joined Ulmer Dermatology in Long Beach, while continuing my private internal medicine practice with Dr. Sarah Sandell. I have truly been on a roll and loving my expanded offering of patient services.

I believe that I have become an even better resource for my patients, given my own experiences. It makes a big difference to understand oneself by learning through the experiences of others and sharing your own—especially in the context of a life-threatening health condition such as cancer. I found it to be both educational and inspiring.

For my experience with Cancer Support Community, I am grateful and am happy to give back. Turning lemons into lemonade, enjoying life, work and, most importantly, connections with other people—both personal and professional, on a much deeper level—has made it all worthwhile.


Cancer Support Community Redondo Beach invites teens to take part in an essay contest with celebrity judge Carson Daly of The Voice for the chance to win $2,500. In your own words, share how cancer has touched your life, including your personal reflections and insight. Requirements and guidelines are available online at Submission deadline is Friday, October 28 at midnight.