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Dena I

It was April 8, 2014. The day began with a routine biopsy of a spot on my lung the doctors had been watching for three years. For ten years I had suffered from countless colds, bronchitis and pneumonias. Doctors were puzzled because I had never been an addicted smoker. I must admit, during my college years and during an episode of insecurity when my marriage seemed to be falling apart I did pick up cigarettes thinking they would ease the pain of a likely divorce.

So, the biopsy was performed but doctors assured me they thought it was some sort of infection. But that was not to be. Cancer was diagnosed and they removed 2/3 of my left lung and one lymph node. As luck would have it, the day before I was to be released I developed double pneumonia and two staph infections in my lungs. My fever spiked to 105 and blood pressure rose to dangerous levels. I was whisked away from my husband's arms and ended up on life support for almost a week. The love and prayers of my husband, two sons, and close family members and the best doctors in the world brought me through the crisis.

5 weeks and 40 pounds later my husband began the five hour trip home with me. Too weak to eat or even walk to the bathroom, we finally made it. Within a week I returned to a local hospital to undergo another surgery to remove more infection. After three more stays in the hospital and several trips to the ER, I was finally able to rest and begin my recovery.

During one of my hospital stays I heard from my original oncologist that they had genotyped my cancer and I was a candidate to take the oral drug, Tarceva, instead of undergoing the typical chemotherapy treatments. He was delighted with this news. I was able to begin the drug in October as soon as my body was strong enough. I continue with the drug daily, my PET scans have all been normal and my blood work is good.

So far, I am doing well. My friends and family say they are seeing glimpses of my old self. I still suffer from damage to my intercostal nerve from the six incisions made in my side. The pain is severe at times but doctors are trying to control with medication and shots. I pray the tests continue to come back normal. I pray I can continue the Tarceva treatment even with some of the awful side effects. I pray that I live much longer than the original projected four years. I have a loving husband, two sons and five grandchildren whom I love more than anything. I want to live, I am determined to beat this cancer. #life #family #lungforce #shareyourvoice

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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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