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Cancer patient shares song to give hope to others

Ironton resident, Susan Bowen 52, has had a love affair with music her entire life. She plays the piano and composes music whenever she is feeling inspired.

When she was in her late teens, she was a singer in a country music band for three years. Bowen has always appreciated the healing power that music offers.

“I consider myself to be an emotional musician,” said Bowen. “When something is on my heart, I tend to write it in music. It’s a cathartic process.”

The Healing Power of Music

This was especially true for Bowen after her husband passed away from lung cancer in 2015. She really threw herself into her music to help her grieve and heal. It was her own personal form of therapy, comfort, and relief.

Studies have shown that music can boost a person’s overall mood and fend off depression. It can also improve blood flow, lowering levels of stress-related hormones like cortisol, while easing pain. In fact, listening to music before an operation can improve post-surgery outcomes.

For Bowen, it turns out that music not only helped her as she grieved the loss of her husband, but it also helped her when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2021.

“On September 29, 2021, I woke up and felt a solid lump in my right breast that didn’t move. I decided to call my doctor’s office and they got me in that day. After evaluating the lump, I was referred for a mammogram at Parkland Health Center followed by a biopsy at Missouri Baptist Medical Center.”

An Unsettling Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Within six weeks of finding the lump and just two days after the biopsy, Bowen learned that she had stage 2 breast cancer – invasive ductal carcinoma and HER2-positive.

She was immediately referred to a team of BJC HealthCare cancer specialists who would oversee and manage her recommended treatments. This included Dr. Bryan Faller, medical oncologist and hematologist; Dr. Paul Yazdi, breast surgeon; and Dr. Vincent Joe, radiation oncologist.

“Although her cancer was fast-growing, Ms. Bowen sought medical attention immediately and her cancer was diagnosed at an early stage,” said Dr. Faller. “The cancer had a marker on it called HER2 that tells us that HER2-targeted therapy added to chemotherapy would work very well and her chance of cure is high.”

Getting that breast cancer diagnosis was certainly surprising and unsettling for Bowen, but she was determined to fight.

“I had watched my own mother battle breast cancer back in the 1980s, so I knew this would be a challenging road to travel,” said Bowen. “But I knew I was in good hands, and I was ready to tackle this with my team of doctors.”

Bowen also had her music to provide her with a therapeutic outlet as she began her treatments. She didn’t waste any time and started putting her fears, feelings and hope into her songwriting. Her raw and vulnerable reflections soon turned into a beautiful song – Pink Ribbon – which she has since shared with her medical team and other cancer patients.

“Composing music has helped me come to grips with having breast cancer,” said Bowen. “Everyone around me kept saying, ‘it’s going to be fine,’ but in my mind, I thought it might not be.

“My music allows me to express those fears while giving me the confidence to face it head on. Cancer may have called me out, but I know I have the best doctors who are going to help me beat this.”

Cancer Treatment Close to Home

Based on her cancer team’s recommendations, Bowen’s treatment would begin with 12 weekly chemotherapy sessions, which started on Jan. 11 at Parkland Health Center. Bowen was also grateful to be able to undergo these treatments close to home.

As a partner of Missouri Baptist Medical Center, Parkland’s Cancer Center provides treatment for cancer in a close-knit environment with staff that treats each patient with respect, honesty, and compassion. Parkland’s Cancer Center includes a medical team of oncology-certified nurses, as well as a pharmacist offers patients the same medical oncology, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and clinical trials that are offered at Missouri Baptist, with the convenience of being closer to home for patients like Bowen.

“I appreciated being able to have my chemo treatments at Parkland Health Center,” said Bowen. “It was an easy commute, and the staff there, including Dr. Faller, were so comforting to me.”

The chemotherapy was particularly effective in Bowen’s case, reducing the size of her tumor within the first three treatments.

Looking Ahead with Optimism

On May 10, shortly after completing the 12 rounds of chemotherapy, Bowen underwent an outpatient lumpectomy at Missouri Baptist Medical Center under the care of Dr. Yazdi. He also removed two lymph nodes.

“Following Ms. Bowen’s 12 weeks of chemotherapy and targeted therapy, there were no remaining cancer cells seen in the initial site of cancer and the two nearby lymph nodes that were surgically removed. This is what we call a ‘complete response’ and predicts a high chance of being cured of this cancer,” said Dr. Faller. “Ms. Bowen is part of a clinical trial through our National Cancer Institute-designated research program that is studying if we can spare women, whose breast cancers have responded completely to the first 12 weeks of chemotherapy, from having to receive more.

“In this trial, she now receives an additional nine months of only the well-tolerated, drugs that target HER2 following surgery with no additional chemotherapy, and she is followed closely by us.”

Bowen will also be taking an estrogen blocker for the next five to 10 years.

She looks forward to a bright future after beating breast cancer, and she plans to continue composing beautiful music, inspiring herself and others to keep fighting the good fight.

“This breast cancer journey has reminded me that life can turn on a dime,” said Bowen. “My motto is to enjoy every day; speak a little kinder; and try to be as happy as I can, as often as I can. I’m grateful to my team of doctors, who have supported me throughout this journey.”

If you or a loved one are dealing are undergoing cancer treatment and you are interested in receiving your treatments close to home, call Parkland Health’s Cancer Center at 573-701-7250.

Pink Ribbon

By Susan ‘Susie’ Bowen

Copyright 3/2022

The sky is dark

The winds are high

The moon is hiding behind the clouds tonight.

Here comes another storm of life

Everyone says

I’ll be okay

I have my doubts but I push them far, far away.

Brush my hair and face the day.


This enemy, I cannot see

Is living inside of me

This battle will be hard I know

And only God knows when I’m coming home

Pink Ribbon – Pink Ribbon

Silent disease

You called me out

Here come the angels in the white coats

Here to stand my ground

I’m ready for you now.

The counts are good

Come treatment day

So I kick back, The Red Devil runs through my veins

I close my eyes and pray


This enemy, I cannot see

Is dying inside of me

This battle, yes its hard I know

And only God knows when I’m coming home

Pink Ribbon – Pink Ribbon


There’s a Pink Ribbon hanging outside my door,

I’m on the inside, my hairs falling to the floor.

My naked head gives my face a lovely glow.

Only God knows when I’m coming home.

Yeah only God knows when I’m coming home.

Pink Ribbon – Pink Ribbon – Pink Ribbon

Susan Bowen was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2021. She wrote a song to give hope to others with cancer. 

Susan Bowen was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2021. She wrote a song to give hope to others with cancer. 

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