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Clara L., TX

I have just been chosen as a LUNG FORCE Hero for the state of Texas. I am also finishing my fifth year of volunteering every Thursday morning in the Cancer Center Memorial Herman Greater Heights, where I was treated and healed and July 1 celebrate the ninth anniversary of my last radiation treatment.

I was invited back to volunteer, in the same center as was treated, and was so flattered; thought my positive fiesty attitude and energy is what they wanted from me. The manager, Nancy Stamos, looked at me and said, "No, that is not why we asked you to come volunteer with us. No one had ever seen a lung cancer survivor before!" And I said "You are using me, and she said 'yes!'"

So as I talk to groups now I make that statement and look at my audience and say, "I am now finishing my fifth year of being used! And like a lot of us, my cancer was found by accident!"

I had to change ENT doctors. This one did not believe in steroids to treat my allergies and antibiotics did not work, so they had me get a chest x-ray, which I had not had in 35 years. It showed a necrotic mass in my right upper lobe; he asked if I smoked I said "yes!"

They said, "You probably have cancer," and spent the next two months running me through every test known to man to find my cancer! They did not find cancer in my body! I went into surgery to remove that necrotic mass and came out of the anesthesia being told by my pulmonologist I had cancer! What? I didn't have it 12 hours ago! I was stunned then pissed then scared! And I never asked what stage I was in or what kind it was. I was not going to die with it!

I had the most awesome oncologist and radiologist and staff working with me for me! And they beat me up with 35 radiations and six chemos at the same time! But I am a sturdy monkey and I survived, so I can be a spokesperson and example for lung cancer healing the number one cancer killer!

P.S. No one ever told me if I did get through this, I'd most likely never get passed one year! So ha, ha, ha! Nine years coming up this July 1. We have come a long way baby in detecting some cancers but lung cancer research still has far to go!

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