Cheryl Cook is an active person who travels internationally, watches her grandchildren, tends to her vegetable garden and rarely gets sick, so her lung cancer diagnosis in March 2018 came as a complete shock. The day after her return from a vacation to the Dominican Republic, Cheryl had severe neck pain. She initially attributed the pain to sleeping on the plane. Within the next few weeks the pain worsened, her throat began to hurt and her chest started to feel heavy. The doctors thought it was bronchitis and treated it with antibiotics, but the illness got so bad that she could barely get out of bed. Additional tests showed masses on both of her lungs and in her lymph nodes.
“Each test showed more spots, so I was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer,” said Cheryl. Her doctors tested the tumor and initially scheduled Cheryl to begin chemotherapy to fight the lung cancer. The day before she was scheduled for her receive her first round of chemotherapy, her tumor testing came back positive for an EGFR mutation. That meant that she qualified for a newly approved oral medication treatment that would result in fewer side effects. “My quality of life while I have this treatment is so much better than it would have been with chemo,” she said. “I have gone on vacations. I work on my yard. I watch my grandson.”
Today, Cheryl feels great. She is scanned every three months so the doctors can monitor the lung cancer and ensure that the treatment is working. She is sharing her story to educate people on lung cancer and encourage them to donate to fund research into new and better treatments. “Lung cancer can happen to anyone, so I hope that lung cancer research keeps moving forward,” she said.