Suzie Humphreys is no stranger to the Lone Star State. Texas-born and currently residing in the Dallas area, Suzie also called the Panhandle her home in the 1960s, where she developed a great respect for its people.
“I lived in Hereford in the 60s and I loved it!” she exclaims, her accent pure and true. “And I love Amarillo and I used to drive to Amarillo to go to the drive-in movies. That was fun. I have a special place in my heart for Amarillo and for the Panhandle. I love the people. I love the good nature of the people. I love the fact that they can put up with the weather when one day there’s a terrible thunderstorm followed by huge outbursts of hail and then snow.”
Tomorrow, the Amarillo Area Breast Health Coalition, which caters to 26 counties in the Panhandle, welcomes Suzie, a motivational speaker, humorist and former radio talk show host, to its third annual Breakfast of Champions where she will uplift and inspire the audience with her own life experiences in her speech, “I Can Do That.”
Suzie’s wit is apparent with every word. Recently signing on to the television show “The Texas Daily,” Suzie was taken aback when she was offered the gig. “Here I am at 75 and somebody calls and says, ‘We think you need to be back on TV.’ And I said, ‘What? Has Betty White died?’”
Suzie was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2005. It was Stage 0, yet a fast-growing cancer, so she opted to undergo a double mastectomy, a decision which was far from distressing for the seasoned entertainer.
“I handled it just like I was marking something off my calendar,” she begins. “My calendar read, ‘I can have my breasts removed on Friday’ and then 10 days later, ‘I can speak to the dentist in Las Vegas.’ It really wasn’t hard for me because of my age.”
However, that does not hinder Suzie from connecting with younger women who have undergone the same procedure. Several years ago, Suzie survived a traumatic experience, a personal time in her life she chooses not to expand on.
“When I was 30, I was kicked in the teeth!” she declares. “It wasn’t breast cancer but it was something that absolutely took me to my knees, so I know what that feeling is like… Even that trauma for me helped me have more compassion for other people who also get kicked in the teeth, whether it’s by breast cancer or divorce or anything.”
Suzie began incorporating her bout with breast cancer into her career as a motivational speaker around 2004, but she has been addressing breast cancer survivors for at least 35 years. With a faith-based foundation, Suzie believes in the good in everyone she meets and in everything she encounters. It may not be apparent at first glance, but the trick, she says, is searching for it and seeing it. To live life, is what Suzie encourages all audience members to do, despite the tragedies and pains they are going through.
“I tell them to live this day and don’t go beyond this day,” she says. “Find the joy in every day, whether it’s in the face of your child, whether it’s in the meal that you cooked, even if you are going through chemo and radiation where you are sick and you feel you can’t even raise your little finger, there is joy even in that day. Maybe it’s by looking at a painting you created or maybe it’s through prayer. You just have to dig deep inside to pull up that resolve to find the joy even in that situation. But it doesn’t come easy. You have to work at this.”
Suzie strives to change breast cancer survivors’ outlooks with laugher and humor, she says. She is not making light of the situation, she stresses, but she wants people to realize and accept that breast cancer is no reason to stop living life, because she guarantees there is someone in this world who is suffering much more than you.
“When you feel sorry for yourself, and I don’t mean you shouldn’t feel sorry for yourself, because you should, you should experience it and get out there. Feel the feeling. Go with it. Go out in the field if you need to and scream,” she emphasizes. “Feel the feeling, then move on and start thinking about somebody other than yourself because that’s when you are able to handle more. You’re not the only one who’s going through hard times.”
For more information on the Breakfast of Champions and the Amarillo Area Breast Health Coalition, visit aabhc.org or call 331-4710.
by Drew Belle Zerby
After graduating from LSU in 2009, Drew Belle worked as a page designer in north Louisiana until moving to Amarillo and joining AGN Media in late 2010. In her spare time, she loves to read, travel and spout out useless movie trivia.