I was diagnosed with Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer in July, 2014, just two months after my 64th birthday. My diagnosis was a shock, given by an oncologist I had just met and a prognosis that was dire, 6-9 months. The cancer was advanced and I was not eligible for any treatment, no surgery, chemo or radiation. The cancer was aggressive.
A cancer patient is forever changed by their diagnosis but what we do next is most important. If you are a ‘glass half empty’ type you might say you’ve being cheated. I did feel a loss, I had four adult children and four grandchildren. I wanted to be there for all that life has to give. A dear friend reminded me that I still had an option to get a second opinion. That's exactly what we did and now we were in business.
A second opinion at KU Medical Center brought hope, and that's all I needed, a little daylight. Before any other treatment began, my doctor's plan was to perform a cervical lymph node biopsy testing for a tumor marker that would secure eligibility for a biological treatment. The result was 100% positive for ROS1. I have received the same NSCL cancer treatment - Xalkori, for over five years! Life isn't the same but I've been given an opportunity to change the way I live my life.
Early detection and advanced treatment options for all lung cancer patients is long overdue. I once read that when one faces adversity, your individual response is highly indicative of your outcome. For me, my response is to choose joy. Life is tough, but in a very strange twist, cancer is teaching me to be joyful. When I look at each of my four children, it’s almost like seeing them for the first time. Really seeing them. I try to focus and memorize everything about them, expressions, sense of humor, and their love. I’m embracing all of it. I'm thankful for my children and ten siblings for the constant love and support they give me. During a prolonged hospital stay, I was never alone because my family took shifts to be by my side. My sincere appreciation and thanks to our physicians, research and medical staff and all other service organizations like the American Lung Association. Early detection and advanced treatment options for all lung cancer patients are long overdue!