As a never-smoker, it’s unlikely that my lung cancer would have been discovered soon enough to prevent metastasizing had it not been for an accident that ended up saving my life. About two months before my diagnosis, I had a (probable) seizure while backing out of my driveway one morning. I briefly lost consciousness as my car drifted into my neighbor’s yard. A series of tests, including a CT scan done in the emergency room, and follow-up CT scans and biopsies revealed two malignant tumors, one in each lung.

My healthcare provider suggested an initial surgery to remove the more concerning tumor, and my thoracic surgeon removed the lymph nodes in that area of my chest. Three weeks later I had the tumor in the other lung removed. By then it had been determined that the lymph nodes that my surgeon had removed were malignant.  

I had to follow-up my surgeries with chemotherapy, which I completed at three-week intervals. Struggling with the side effects, I experienced nausea, vomiting and extreme fatigue. In addition, I completed one month of daily radiation therapy, being rewarded with the opportunity to “Ring the Bell." I finished treatment by completing a year of monthly infusions of immunotherapy.  By January 2,2020, I was in remission, and five years after my diagnosis, in June 2023, I was officially cured. 

Starting to Walk the Walk

After reading some helpful emails from the American Lung Association as I began treatment for Stage 3B non-small cell lung cancer, I decided to send them a donation. A few days later I received a call from the Pittsburgh office asking if I would like to get involved in some lung health fundraisers. I decided to participate in the annual LUNG FORCE Walk in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. I’d enjoyed walking for pleasure and exercise for my entire adult life, so I was eager to participate and agreed to lead LUNG FORCE Walk team in the fall of 2019.

During my September immunotherapy treatment, I sat beside a friendly woman who told me about her husband’s lung cancer journey. He was also receiving immunotherapy that day and listened as I told her about the LUNG FORCE Walk and my fundraising activities. As my infusion came to an end, he handed his wife a $20 bill, and she passed it to me. I was truly touched by his contribution.

That October date approached rapidly. Since I had yet to complete my treatment, preparing for that first Walk was a little challenging. But I had no intention of quitting, so I decided to pick a name for my team that was inspired by my daughter and all those who were supporting me, Sue’s Prayer Army.

Sue's Prayer Army Sue's Prayer Army

On Walk day, I met so many great people, including other lung cancer survivors and Lung Association staff. I was also fortunate to be reunited with many members of my prayer army! I was overwhelmed listening to my middle daughter speak about me and my lung cancer challenge.

The pandemic made it impossible to have the LUNG FORCE Walk in the fall of 2020, so it was rescheduled for the spring of 2021, and has remained a spring event since then. I have already begun to raise funds for my fifth LUNG FORCE Walk, scheduled for April 27, 2024.

I’m happy to say, Sue’s Prayer Army has thrived, as have I.

Sharing My Experiences

I have used journaling throughout my adult life, and found it was especially useful when I was diagnosed with my first life threatening cancer (my third cancer experience). By then I knew I had a story to tell.

In late summer of 2023, I submitted my cancer story to CURE Today, a special cancer magazine, which focuses on cancer patients, survivors and caretakers. A few days later I was offered a part time position blogging for the magazine. Writing for the publication has proven to be an excellent opportunity to share my experiences as a patient, survivor and support person to several individuals currently in cancer treatment. One woman has become a close friend and a role model of faith for me as she has valiantly fought her Stage 4 colon cancer for almost three years now. Never having had a close family, it has meant a lot for me to become friends with two extended family members for the first time in my life because of our mutual cancer diagnoses.

Suzanne M

In September 2023, I published my memoir, LEARNING TO THRIVE: A Journey from Adversity to Joy and Fulfillment. A few months later, I was honored at the 2023 Lung Association’s Survivor’s Luncheon. I am a three-time cancer survivor, but I don’t want to be known solely as a cancer survivor. I am a wife, mother, grandmother, tutor and now a writer. I hope as many people as possible can identify with me and be inspired to use their cancer as a chance to make positive changes in their lives.  

Get Involved

LUNG FORCE Walks and Runs honor the memory of those we’ve lost and lift up those who need our support. Learn more about how to participate in this powerful event.

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