Glenna M., OR
My Lung Force Hero story is written on behalf of my family, as lung cancer has had a profound impact on us and has become our family’s legacy.
My personal journey with lung cancer actually begins with a diagnosis of breast cancer. While undergoing treatment, my youngest sister was diagnosed with stage IV small cell lung cancer. She lost her life to the disease shortly after I finished my treatment for breast cancer. Our grandfather and two uncles had previously lost their lives to lung cancer as well, but our family legacy with this deadly disease did not end there.
I received my first diagnosis of lung cancer shortly after my retirement. I was treated with surgery and chemo. However, I became frustrated and yes, angry at the disparities between my treatments for breast and lung cancer. I was further discouraged by the lack of research for new treatments and the continued high death rate for lung cancer. But sometimes timing is everything.
Shortly after my first round of lung cancer, the USPSTF approved low-dose CT scans as the first ever viable screening test for the disease. This announcement gave me hope and inspired me to become an advocate. I made it my passion and visited clinics and hospitals throughout the state to encourage them to initiate lung cancer screening when talking with patients that met the screening criteria. This opportunity felt like I was doing something to help, but there was a new challenge on the lung cancer front just ahead of me.
When I received my initial diagnosis of lung cancer, I was told there was a 50/50 chance of recurrence and recur it did in 2015. I received stereotactic body radiation therapy, or SBRT, since lung surgery was no longer an option for me. At the time, SBRT was a relatively new treatment for lung cancer at my health care facility. Today I am cancer-free thanks in part to having received this new treatment.
Our family legacy with lung cancer continued even after my two rounds of treatment. After losing our grandfather, two uncles and our beautiful youngest sister, our brother was diagnosed and treated for the disease just prior to the COVID-19 crisis, which put him at additional risk. Fortunately, my brother and I are currently in the “survivor column”, but it goes without saying, our remaining sibling sister is continually looking over her shoulder wondering if she will be next.
In spite of our family’s history with lung cancer, I am thankful for the advancements and progress made since my first diagnosis. Lung cancer screening and new therapeutic drug treatments in the last decade have given us HOPE, and increased numbers in the “survivor column”. Should my remaining sister one day receive a lung cancer diagnosis, there will thankfully be even more effective drug therapies and treatment options available to her!
Today, I am proud to be a Lung Force Hero and a volunteer with the American Lung Association so that I can continue to pursue my passion to provide education and awareness about the importance of lung cancer screening, especially to those who are underserved in the community.
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