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What is it like to be told you’re intersex while suffering from stage 4 cancer?

What is it like to be told you’re intersex while suffering from stage 4 cancer?

Suz reveals her story | XYSuz Instagram

What is it like to be told you’re intersex while suffering from stage 4 cancer?

It happened to Suz Temko, at 16.

She was bald, she had braces and glasses, and it felt like her body hated her.

Diagnosed with stage four cancer at 15, she went through several surgeries and chemotherapy.

During one of this surgeries, a doctor discovered something about Suz that would change her life.

Learning about being intersex


‘The surgeon looked at what was supposed to be an ovary, but it was a gonad,’ she told Gay Star News.

A gonad is between an ovary and a testes, providing hormones and secondary sex characteristics.

The gonad was providing no hormones.

On the day of her prom, she was told about her condition.

‘I was told [by a doctor] kindly but crudely: Boys have XY chromosomes, girls have XX, you have XY – enjoy your day.’

Suz didn’t go to her prom despite having a ‘killer dress’.

‘It was quite something to take in,’ she said.

Keeping it a secret

Seven years later, Suz studied politics and communication. She started writing extensively about facing your mortality at a young age.

As part of that writing, she wrote a lot about body confidence and self-care.

However, she was keeping the fact she was intersex a secret.

‘I was so full of crap,’ she said.

‘I knew I was intersex and hiding it from the rest of the world. It’s biological, it’s to do with your body.

‘I was putting this message out that there’s nothing shameful about your body, but I was lying about myself.’

Doctors told to keep her sex characteristics to herself.

‘I kept hearing, “You’re not a proper woman” and “you’re not a real woman,’ she said.’

‘This was never said to me outside of a doctor’s office.’

Owning your own story


Later, she began working in politics. She learned the importance of owning your own story, ensuring no one else has control over it other than you.

So she wrote a Facebook post, expressing she was intersex. And she got a lot of support from friends and family.

She set up her own website, XYSuz, to truly express what it means to love your body.

Now 26, Suz loves herself.

‘I wouldn’t change anything about my body naturally,’ she said.

‘Anyone who I’ve been in love with, my friends or family don’t wish anything different either.

‘Being intersex is very difficult in today’s world.

‘But just like any other thing in this life, as long as you’re given support you can be happy.’

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