Amy C

Amy C., WA

I started walking with Lung Force in 2016, after my Mom, Sue, had her second lung cancer surgery (she’s the Sue in Sue’s Crew, our team name).

Her story, however, actually goes back decades. She was diagnosed with a thyroid condition at age 29. At the time, they removed the part of her thyroid that had a (thankfully) benign growth on it. She had another thyroid surgery in her 40s to remove a little more, and then in January 2006, just before her 60th birthday, she was at the doctor because the prescription for her thyroid medication had run out, and it was again discovered that there was a growth.
With not a lot of it left, it was time to remove the remaining part of her thyroid. Because of her age, chest X-rays were required within a month prior to a major surgery. So, she had an X-ray at the end of February, and they noticed what they called a “shadow” on her right lung. That resulted in a second X-ray to verify it was indeed a shadow.

Unfortunately, it was NOT a shadow. The thyroid surgery was March 8th (because of the thyroid being a cancer risk as well), and after recovery, she met with a lung surgeon. A CT scan was done to reconfirm what the X-ray showed, followed by a biopsy the first week of May, which confirmed lung cancer. And because it was small-cell lung cancer, surgery was scheduled for the following week. On May 12th, 2006, they removed the top two lobes of her right lung. Because they caught it so early, there was no radiation or chemotherapy required, and after 5 days in the hospital, she went home to complete her recovery.

Between 4-5 years post surgery, they started watching what the oncologist called a “ground-glass opacity.”  About 4 years after that, it had started growing, resulting in another surgery in July 2015, this time for non-small cell lung cancer. They removed a wedge from what remained of her lower right lobe.  She spent more than a week in the hospital this go-round, but again was lucky it had been being watched so that no chemotherapy or radiation was needed.

I know it’s just short of a miracle that my Mom is a SCLC survivor. Thank goodness for that thyroid condition, or they’d have never caught the lung cancer. Thank goodness for the health measures in place dictating that pre op X-ray, or my Mom would not be alive today. She’s gotten to see both her kids fall in love and get married. She’s gotten to enjoy grandchildren, and family camping trips, and all the mundane daily activities the rest of us take for granted.

My Mom, like so many others, was never a smoker. But, she was exposed to large amounts of second-hand smoke as child, and had X-ray treatments on her back for acne as a teen, and both of those likely contributed to her lung cancers. This is why we need to continue funding institutions like the CDC and NIH, to continue funding research and health initiatives that save the lives of people like my sweet mama.

This is why I walk. I walk to honor her. I walk to educate, and raise awareness so that others might be screened and more deaths prevented. I walk to fundraise, so that we can one day put a stop to lung cancer once and for all. And I walk in memory of those friends and loved ones who haven’t been so lucky.

Asthma Basics Workshop - National
, | Apr 17, 2024
Asthma Basics Workshop - National
, | May 07, 2024