For LUNG FORCE Hero Nancy V., learning that she had COVID-19 was a scary moment, second only to learning that she had lung cancer in 2009.
“When I first was diagnosed with COVID-19, I felt as if I already knew because of my symptoms, which included fever and shortness of breath. Lung cancer hadn’t killed me, but now this happened. I had mixed emotions but was ready to fight,” said Nancy.
The majority of Nancy’s treatment was conducted remotely to ensure her ability to stay isolated, and the hospital sent a nurse to her home to help manage her oxygen treatment. Nancy felt fortunate that her follow-up visits with her doctor were also conducted via telehealth.
Throughout her treatment, Nancy relied on the support of her family to navigate her care. “I was blessed throughout my COVID-19 journey with a great boyfriend and a wonderful daughter who took care of me and made sure I was OK. My sister and brother also communicated with me daily. It felt good to know that I had a support system that would be there for me no matter what.”
Nancy’s COVID-19 diagnosis also had a significant impact on her lung cancer treatment. “Before being diagnosed with COVID-19, I had completed my latest round of chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Due to the COVID-19 diagnosis, I couldn’t go to get my blood test and PET scan until two months later, which was frustrating.”
Having a lung disease means that individuals like Nancy are in the high-risk category for severe illness and complications from COVID-19. Nancy encourages everyone to take important steps to protect their loved ones who may also be at high risk. “Wearing a mask has been challenging for me because I had half a lung removed, but it’s an important way to protect others. Washing your hands and maintaining social distancing is also a must.”
After Nancy’s oxygen levels were completely under control, she was given a second COVID-19 test, which was negative. Nancy lost her sense of taste and smell after her oxygen treatment concluded, which took her by surprise since she had assumed that the worst was now over.
Nearly one month after her diagnosis, Nancy returned to work and shares her story because she knows the importance of remaining positive during challenging times. “We all need a hug and a smile and need to know that there's always a light at the end of the road,” said Nancy.
In the future, Nancy plans to continue sharing her voice to support LUNG FORCE and raise awareness about the health impacts of COVID-19 on lung cancer, “Being diagnosed with COVID-19 made me realize that I can always do more and I hope to support others living with lung cancer during this pandemic.”
The Lung Association, through our LUNG FORCE initiative, is leading efforts to help lung cancer patients and caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic with resources like our Lung HelpLine, online support community and one-on-one mentorship program, while continuing to raise awareness of lung cancer as the #1 cancer killer of both women and men.
Blog last updated: July 21, 2020