In May 2022, my life changed forever. After battling a continuous cough, being out of breath while working out and walking up inclines, and numerous doctor visits, I was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. I was shocked. Lung cancer was the farthest thing from my mind. I was only 46 years old, didn’t smoke, and exercised daily.
A few weeks later, a PET Scan showed I was Stage IV, and the cancer had spread to my brain, bones and left lung. My oncologist wanted me to have a lung biopsy to determine if a gene mutation caused my cancer. If I had a gene mutation, my cancer could be treated with targeted therapy. I “hit the lottery” regarding lung cancer- I am ALK Positive. The mutation of the ALK gene causes my cancer.
Today, I am very thankful for the research allowing me to take a targeted therapy pill daily. Unfortunately, it’s not just taking a pill every day. There are numerous side effects. Plus, the fact remains that my cancer will become smarter than my pill. So I keep my fingers crossed that my blood results don’t show damage to my other organs every six weeks due to the targeted therapy. And I cross my fingers that my CT scans and MRI come back stable every three months.
I advocate for awareness, education and raising of funds for lung cancer.
Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer. So many patients are receiving the diagnosis of lung cancer too late. Be persistent; ask for that chest X-ray. Young active people are being diagnosed daily. The stigma around lung cancer remains the same- smoking! No one deserves lung cancer.
Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer! Yet least funded. Research is the only thing that is going to keep me alive.