Irisaida M

Irisaida M., FL

I’m a stage IV cancer patient. I fight to live, but every day I also fight to breathe. In 2017 I learned that my uterine cancer distantly metastasized from my uterus to my left lung. It didn’t spread, it jumped. 

After undergoing a lobectomy, I followed by the standard course of treatment, including six and a half hour long chemotherapy sessions every 3 weeks. Despite the aggressive treatment and having a lung removed, the cancer kept spreading, now attacking the upper lobe, the pleura and the mediastinum, compromising even more my ability to breathe. Chemo didn’t work and I was told by my doctors that I had 18 – 24 months to live. I sought a second opinion.

The doctors offered a  last resort - a new immunotherapy that wouldn’t cure me but could prolong my life. And it has. It’s been over three years since I was told my time left was limited. But cancer is still a constant in my life. If my cancer stops responding to the treatment, there is not another treatment to try. My life shows the need for more research for better early detection, treatment and cures for lung cancer. 

While this treatment has given me more time to spend with my family, including my four children, it has not come without costs. Every year I start with an established minimum debt of $20,000. I need infusions every three weeks to prevent my cancer from spreading.  I am paying out of pocket to fight my cancer and prolong my life. I am an example of the need for quality affordable health insurance in this country and I know I’m not the only person who faces decisions like this. It is imperative that all individuals have access to quality healthcare without such an economic burden.

As a lung cancer warrior, I have made up my mind to fight for my family, fight for air, and to fight for a cure for lung disease. Research saved my life and keeps me breathing. We need more research to save more lives, and we also need affordable healthcare to cover treatments without it being a toll on the family income.

First Published: March 11, 2021

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