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Cheryl C., IA

WOW! It's true, all you need is lungs to get lung cancer! I have always been a active and healthy living person - or so I thought.

October 2017, I had been hiking mountains in Maine and New Hampshire and in January 2018 when returning on a trip from Dominican Republic I had the worst neck ache. Thinking it was from sleeping wrong on the plane I waited a week to confront my PCP while at my Annual Physical. She had diagnosed it as clogged saliva gland, gave meds and away I went. (I did pass my physical just perfectly).

A week went by and neck and throat and chest now were feeling worse. I went back to the doctor and was given more meds thinking was on set of sinus infection, or bad cold. I took meds and was still getting worse and added symptom of being very very tired. Went back to the doctor and let her know that this is not right and just not getting better. Luckily she listened and sent me straight to the ER.

The ER ran all kinds of test, mainly dealing with the heart, but I kept insisting the it's not my heart, it's my right side of neck throat and tightness in chest. So they did a CT without dye, and that's where they found a small mass in my upper right lung. I thought, "Great! It's not my heart, I'm good to go." The ER said get with my primary doctor and get an appointment set up with Pulmonary doctor.

Thats where the real fun started. First they thought maybe lung infection from being out of the country. They did some testing and unfortunately came back as multiple masses on right side of lung, on lympy nodes, and down throat. Ok, so than came the biopsy and more bad news. Yes, came back as cancer, but I was told I can go in surgical and take out -- more bad news after more testing, I went from possible lung infection to stage 2 lung cancer to stage 4 lung cancer. The most recent test showed it had crossed over to my left lung also, and I can be treated but not cured! The only silver lining -- yes, my silver lining is that the PET Scan showed very important BioMarkers that qualifies me to take a targeted therapy drug. Much better than starting out with traditional chemo.

I recommend to cancer patients not to be in to big of rush to start treatment, get a BioMarker test! It will not change my outcome but has, at least for the time being, helped with my "quality of life." For a terrible diagnosis, I do feel blessed.

After my diagnosis, I came home and cleaned house of all cleaning products, had a radon test of my house, did not weed and feed my lawn, no aerosol products in the house, and a few other things I can't remember. I do hope lung cancer screenings guidelines are changed, that I will someday be part of your annual physical for everyone, weather you smoked or not and for people younger than 55. I am proof that it CAN happen to anyone. I was a healthy, active, non smoking 59-year-old that had no common symptoms of lung cancer or lung disease, and now has stage 4 lung cancer. I could keep going, but so much more awareness of this awful disease needs to be talked about!

In 2022, Cheryl passed away from lung cancer, but she left behind her story and hopes for others that may also face lung cancer.

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