PRESCOTT A routine breast exam forever changed Susan Novick's life.
Novick's doctor thought an infection caused the lymph nodes on one side of her body to enlarge.
Doctors changed their prognosis when blood test results showing an elevated white cell count indicated lymphocytic leukemia.
"We were stunned when I was diagnosed," she said. "My white count was over 50,000."
Lymphocytic leukemia is a slowly progressing cancer of the blood in which too many of a type of white blood cell, called lymphocytes, are produced by the bone marrow and organs of the lymph system.
"I have a chronic kind that's incurable, but it's treatable," she said.
The situation surrounding Novick's medical condition is ironic.
A doctor diagnosed her younger sister with a blood cancer about three years ago leading Novick to participate in the Light The Night Walk in 2005. She received an invitation to chair the 2006 walk before her mammogram in late January.
Her husband, Laurie, is a former obstetrician who stopped delivering babies two years ago to open Amicos Pizza in downtown Prescott.
"You certainly aren't a doctor during this," he said. "You're a husband, a friend and a lover but you're not a physician."
The diagnosis was hard on Laurie, who said it's a foreign topic to him and all he can offer medically is asking questions that others don't think about.
"It's all a foreign language to me," he said. "Everything they're doing is certainly nothing I ever did. It scares the heck out of me. I'm 10 years older than my wife and I expected to succumb to other events long before I ever had to worry about my wife."
The doctors told Novick that she has between 70 percent to 85 percent chance of complete remission for about five years.
The oncologist treating her is optimistic a cure will be found in that time frame, according to Susan.
"Then there is a lot more treatment that they'll try after that, including bone marrow transplant," she said.
In recognition of Susan's last chemotherapy treatment, the Novick's hosted an all-day benefit for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Saturday.
The couple will donate all proceeds and staff salaries that day to the society at the walk on Sept. 16 at StoneRidge in Prescott Valley.
This is not Novick's first cancer scare. She has a 10-year history of intermittent skin cancer.
"So many people do not pay attention to skin cancers," she said. "I think that people just need to be so much more aware that skin cancer can lead to so many other things."
Novick is positive about the future.
"All and all we have a very positive outlook," she said. "It's a very hopeful kind of situation."
Amicos Pizza is located at 107 S. Cortez St.
For more information, call
443-0800 or visit www.lightthenight.org.
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