Then, her busy life came to a screeching halt. In June 2015, Seung-Hee felt a lump in her left breast. Despite a clean mammogram in November 2014, she was diagnosed with Stage 1A invasive carcinoma in July 2015.
Upon the recommendation of her doctors and the onslaught of treatment and doctor's appointments,
Dr. Rhee reduced her hours to five hours a day, four days a week, and took a leave of absence from teaching at NYC once the treatment started. As she prepared for her treatments, her unusual absence from work did not go unnoticed. Seung-Hee decided whatever the outcome, she needed to inform those who would be affected. Little did she know, the disclosure would lead to the source of her support.
Seung-Hee first informed the members of her group practice. Her manager burst into tears. But their support was immediate and wonderful, as they volunteered to take on any emergency cases her patients may have. Then Seung-Hee informed her Department Chair at NYU who told her to focus on getting well, assuring her she could come back to teach the following year. Her Jewish “big brother”, a colleague and supervisor at school joked, if he saw her face in the clinic, he told her, “I’m going to have security escort you out!” Coinciding with the Breast Cancer Awareness month, the staff and her students dressed in pink and threw Seung-Hee a get well party with two cakes on her last day of teaching.