LUNG FORCE Heroes
I was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in December 2014- Stage 4 in both lungs.
On Dec. 11, 2104 I was at work and had a pain in my chest on my left side. I became concerned when it was still there 2 hours later. I felt like I couldn't take a "deep" breath; I was thinking I may have been having a heart attack. I went to the ER and they did an EKG - all was good with my heart. They then did a CAT scan and that is when I received the news that changed my life forever. The ER doctor said very bluntly, "We found a spot on your lung which appears to be a tumor". I also had pneumonia as a result of the tumor. I looked at my husband and said, "I need a bag, I am going to be sick." I made my husband promise not to share the news with our two adult daughters or anyone else until we knew more. I was scheduled to have a biopsy and several more tests and would need to see an Oncologist. My husband of 44 years did secretly confide in a friend of ours who is a PA at Mayo clinic; he was so scared he had to find out what this meant for me. We were both avoiding any conversation around "it", even between us. I was completely in denial. We were both very scared and I felt as though I had been given a death sentence. I mean, who lives more than 3 months with lung cancer? I was a very healthy 63 year old women (former smoker). I didn't even feel ill when I had the pneumonia! No cough, no wheezing, no COPD - nothing!
Fast forward to the end of January 2015. We met with the Oncologist and found out the specifics; not good. Stage 4, tumors in both lungs. The doctor recommended chemo once every 3 weeks for 8 hours at a time, It was grueling! We finally after the holidays and when we knew everything about my diagnosis shared it with my two adult daughters, who completely fell apart. I ended up telling the rest of my immediate family shortly thereafter. There were a lot of "I love you", tears and, "you can beat this!" I wasn't so sure I could!
I started my 12 weeks of chemo, lost my hair, bought 7 wigs (I wanted to have some fun with it) and actually handled the chemo quite well considering. I continued working, sometimes at home if I wasn't feeling up to speed, but most of the time I pushed myself to go into the office. By now I had made up my mind that I would beat this and "Cancer was messin' with the wrong person!"
After 3 months of chemo, my first PET scan showed the chemo had worked! My tumors were shrinking and no new cancer was found. My incredible doctor wanted to start me on a new cutting edge treatment that had just been FDA approved: immunotherapy. This was in July of 2015 and a year later my tumors continue to shrink, no new cancer has been detected in the year I have been receiving this miracle drug. Virtually no side effects! I have hair that is my own and other than a bit of fatigue, which may be a result of my age and not the drug. I am feeling and looking like fantastic! Certainly not like a cancer patient-which I still am by the way. I am not cancer free yet, but with all the prayers and support I have received from my family and friends, I expect to be cancer free someday! My journey has been a scary at times; but it has taught me to never take anything -including life - for granted! I try to make the best out of every day I am on this planet-none of us know when our time will be up, but until that time, I am so blessed to be alive and feeling so darn good. I thank my family, friends, and God for getting me where I am today! I GOT THIS!
First published: August 12, 2016
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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.