Nashville Woman with Stage IV Lung Cancer Reaches New Heights, Inspires Others
(October 22, 2019) - NASHVILLE
For more information please contact:
Sandy Bowles is the picture of health – she goes to the gym several times a week, eats well, watches her weight and works hard to live a healthy lifestyle, so two years ago, a stage IV lung cancer diagnosis came as a complete shock. Now, Bowles is participating in the American Lung Association in Tennessee’s Fight For Air Climb at the 505 to raise awareness of lung cancer and to show others that this disease does not have to define your life.
In February of 2017, Bowles developed a cough. She mentioned it to her doctor in a regular checkup, and they said it was allergies. She visited two other doctors, who both also said her cough was attributed to allergies and prescribed her medication. Since she is a very healthy and active women, doctors didn’t think anything was seriously wrong. Several months later, when the cough persisted, she got an x-ray.
“I started hounding them. I called every week for a month because I knew something was not right,” she said.
After several more months and more tests, Bowles got news that changed her life forever. At just 53 years old, doctors diagnosed her with stage IV lung cancer, even though she had none of the common risk factors for the disease. The cancer had spread to both lungs and her lymph nodes.
“It was a devastating day. Every day after that, I thought I would wake up thinking this was a bad dream,” she said. “When you are first diagnosed, it really knocks you down, but you have to be strong.”
The doctors tested the tumor, which revealed she had an EGFR mutation. This means that she was able to take an oral medication for treatment. Since she started treatment, she has taken two different medications that have worked to shrink her tumors. Today, she lives an active life and receives scans regularly to monitor the lung cancer.
After Bowles was diagnosed with lung cancer, she was introduced to the staff at the Local Lung Association and decided to become involved.
“When I was first diagnosed, I knew that I had a mission. I knew there was something I needed to do to raise awareness about this disease,” said Bowles. “When I heard about the Fight For Air Climb, I said, ‘I am all in!’ It is a challenge, but it is important for me to show others that someone with stage IV lung cancer can do this.”
Last year, Bowles participated in her first Fight For Air Climb. She did the Vertical Half Mile, where she climbed five times up and five times down the 505 building (45 floors, 862 steps). She also climbed a sixth time with her team, F4L (Friends for Life). On November 2, Bowles will again tackle the Vertical Half Mile at the Fight For Air Climb at the 505 in Nashville.
“I think it is so important to raise money for research to do more testing on these genes and mutations that cause lung cancer in healthy people. I hope that if someone with lung cancer sees me climbing, it gives them hope,” said Bowles.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
Sign up for the latest lung health news sent right to your inbox.
Join more than 500,000 people who receive research updates, inspiring stories, health information and more.