Colette was watching television one night after her husband had gone to bed. She had one eye on the TV and the other on the partially opened door to her son's bedroom where she could see him asleep amidst his Legos and bedtime buddies.

Then a thud struck her chest. "It felt like my heart sped up and started palpitating," Colette said. When the pain didn't go away after a minute, she woke up her husband and they called an ambulance.

Colette was stunned by the diagnosis: lung cancer. And the doctors impressed on her the need to schedule an operation very soon. So not long after, Colette headed to the hospital fearing the worst.

"I felt sorry for myself the morning of the surgery. I felt sad. I kind of knew what the end results would be. I was still in denial. I remember the surgeon explaining to me taking one CAT scan and comparing it to another and saying to me the reason why he thinks his suspicions would be confirmed after the surgery was he compared the initial scan to the second scan and he explained to me even though the mass had not grown in size it had thickened."

Collette: It was very late at night. I was the only one up. From where I was I could see my son's bedroom door partially opened. I felt like a thud in my chest and I remember that moment of being so alone. I thought about him being an orphan. I thought about who would care for him the way his mom cares for him because not even dad can do that. That was the scariest part for me. You appear without any signs or warnings and you're a coward.

Collette: My name is Collette. I'm a survivor. I'm here and I'm willing to fight you.

"It was a solitary mass by itself, cancer likes to be alone, because cancer's greedy."

Colette was lucky to have a fellow survivor in her life who showed her that this was just the beginning of the rest of her life.

"The first person who gave me an inkling that I would survive this is this dear woman by the name of Julie. She was my son's second-grade teacher and a fellow survivor. When I explained everything to her she says lung cancer is not the end of your life, let's get a plan."

Page last updated: March 11, 2020

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