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my story

Sue Arnolds’ Story


nthusiasm for life radiates from her, her brightness shines from within and her humour is

infectious. Sue quickly made me feel welcome with a hot chocolate and the offer of homemade cake. Sue's forthcoming personality would make the most hesitant visitor feel like they’d known her forever.

Sue is "the closer side to 60" and has beaten cancer twice in her life. In 1974 Sue was studying at Exeter University to be an Occupational Therapist when her mother noticed that her personality and behaviour had changed to a worrying degree. When asked what kind of changes her mother had noticed Sue couldn’t explain because she still felt she was behaving completely normally. “Mummy took me to see a Neurologist and he said I was suffering from neurosis, I thought it was everyone else who was neurotic and I was completely fine”. she said.

Sue went on to be diagnosed with a tumour in the back of her brain and because of the severity of it and obviously as technology wasn’t as advanced as it is now Sue was given a low chance of survival.

But survive she did. But what could her amazing survival be attributed to? “You can’t keep worrying about what might happen....” she said. Talking about her time in the hospital, Sue recounted a situation in the ward as she recovered, where a fellow patient asked her “how can you be so happy when you look so terrible?” - to which we all fell about laughing due to the back handed compliment. Sue proved her doubters wrong and not only survived she graduated in just nine months too.

Sue is very unassuming of her achievements - to beat a brain tumour and survive is an amazing achievement in itself, however, to be then diagnosed with a second tumour in 2004, but this time in the front of her brain. She discards the unfairness of it all with a sweep of her hand and states “its not everyone who gets two you know!” she laughs.

This second tumour was thought to have been caused by the radiotherapy from treating the first one. She was shipped to Frenchay after suffering double vision on a drive from the University to Bath and knew something wasn’t right again. The MRI scan showed the result and when asked what happened next she looked deadpan and said “well they cut my head open and took the tumour out of course”. Sue’s ‘matter-of-fact delivery of the statement meant we fell about laughing with tears streaming down our faces yet again. Through it all you could see the strong resilience which refuses to accept defeat.

Laughter has obviously been the best medicine for this amazing lady throughout her journey and even life threatening illnesses haven’t been able to stop that laughter flooding through her life. Her steadfastness, self belief and strength is admirable. Sue seems

28 Life Begins

Every edition, Life Begins will publish a true life story from a reader. If you have a story to tell in no more than 700 words, send it to us at the address on page 3 or email: If we publish your story, we’ll send you a £25 shopping voucher!

blissfully unaware of just how much of an example her life could be to others, suggesting that with hope and belief “anything is achievable”. As Sue points out: ”If you don’t push yourself to achieve things then what is life about?”

Needless to say, Sue refused to let the second diagnosis of a further brain tumour stand in her way and has gone on to run the London Marathon to raise money for charities such as ‘About Face’, a charity that raises awareness and money for surgery for facial cancer patients, (About Face operates a drop-in centre opposite Poole Hospital offering advice and support), and also the ‘Macmillan Trust’ another well-known cancer charity which offers support to cancer sufferers and their families. Her continuing positive mental attitude has been tantamount to her success and survival and it continues to be apparent today.

One of her other amazing achievements to date has been to swim the Pier to Pier race, which even without taking into all the factors surrounding Sue’s life into consideration, would have been no mean feat for most of us. Even her co-swimmer Hannah, who had volunteered to go with Sue, hadn’t anticipated participating as she woke on a bitterly cold, rainy miserable day. "Well that’s that then" she thought minutes before receiving a phone call from Sue to check she was still doing the swim!

Hannah who is a personal trainer and owns Body Fit Consultancy, relays her shock at the freezing water, the big waves and the sheer determination of her friend Sue. They accomplished it with coverage from local newspapers and much cheering from supporters.

Mind-set is an amazing thing and with people like Sue Arnold setting the standard, we don’t have to take age or illness as a predetermined outcome. It’s difficult to find a word to sum up Sue’s life, but perhaps the first one to spring to mind is ‘Inspirational’ - although Sue is probably too unassuming to think so!

Pass me my flippers someone . . . . . .

To find out more about the Charities Sue supports visit:

About Face: Macmillan Trust:

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