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LUNG FORCE Heroes

Colette S

Colette doing a happy dance in a bright shirt and skirt in front of a white board

Anyone can get lung cancer. I was one of them.

On September 17, 2015 I was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). It was palpitations that led me to the ER on that fateful night of the first CT scan. The key to my early diagnosis was to listen to the faint whispers of my body suggesting something was wrong. I was very fortunate to have been diagnosed at the earliest stage of the disease, stage 1a. Many are not as fortunate.

Awaiting my diagnosis was an exacting experience. Even more challenging though, has been concealing my diagnosis from my ten-year-old son. I still have not mustered up the courage to tell him that both of his parents are now what many refer to as "survivors." Our son did not take well to his dad's illness or my surgery. He suffers nightly from anxiety.

I had been frantically running from this all and in denial as a succession of diagnostic tests were all returned "inconclusive." Once diagnosed, it was determined that a complete lobectomy would give me the best prognosis. When I was awakened from the anesthesia-induced sleep necessary to undergo the procedure, it was only then that I learned that my upper left lung had been removed. I was too soon have a new normal. It was these words from my therapist that gave me perspective, "What you do with this information is of your own choosing. Knowing can be a blessing or a curse."

As I write this, I am still in disbelief! How does an active, 50 year old, nonsmoker suddenly develop lung cancer? The truth is, there are no definite answers. Some speculate that factors such as inactivity, diet and genetic mutations contribute to the development of cancer while others are misinformed thinking that smokers are the only ones at risk of developing lung cancer. Unfortunately, smokers are inexorably ostracized should they develop the disease. No one deserves lung cancer.

I am happy to share that I have been recovering steadily due to the concerted efforts of many. I have an amazingly compassionate and supportive community! I am never in need of a shoulder to cry on, an attentive ear or a gentle hug. I feel encircled by a protective energy, never in jeopardy or harm's way. Imagine, I feel comforted even in the face of a cancer diagnosis. I feel the grace of God.

Initially, I had a myriad of emotions, with vulnerability at the forefront, as I thought of sharing my story on a public platform. I am learning that it takes great courage to willingly make myself susceptible to scrutiny. Vulnerability though, is minuscule in exchange for my new sense of purpose.

I did not choose this path. It chose me. I now open myself unto this purpose. While I embark on this journey of wellness and lung cancer awareness, I seek your encouragement and support. I am doing amazing things as I increase lung cancer awareness, inspire hope and celebrate victory.

I hope you consider joining my team or making a donation. I would love to walk with you at the LUNG FORCE Walk NYC! Please ask any questions that may help you to become better informed, and send me love and words of encouragement as I continue to treat, heal, breathe and live!

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Hero stories are the point of view of the Hero and not necessarily the American Lung Association. The Lung Association does not endorse any specific provider, facility or treatment.

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