Lysa B

Lysa B., NV

I had back pain for several months that just got worse. After finally going to the ER and having an x-ray, EKG, MRI and a CT I was told I had lung cancer that had spread to my spine. A biopsy later confirmed this. I was devastated. I had just turned 40, never smoked, and had always been healthy.

I want people to know that anyone can get lung cancer: all you need is lungs. You do not have to be a long term smoker or be over 60 years old. Many younger people have been diagnosed in recent years. Do what you can to limit your exposure to cigarette smoke and other toxic fumes.

The one thing I wish I knew more about in the beginning is mutation testing. Many patients with lung cancer test positive for certain gene mutations that can be treated with targeted therapy instead of IV chemo. These drugs attack only the cancer cells and have far less side effects. Please insist on these tests being done. It only requires a biopsy and can make a huge difference in your treatment options.

Another suggestion is to always get a second opinion. Do not worry about hurting your doctor's feelings, it is your life you are fighting for. Do not read statistics on the internet. They are old and everyone responds differently.

Never accept an expiration date. No one should tell you "you only have six months to live." I have met several stage IV LC survivors that were diagnosed years ago. One has been fighting for nine years. That could be you.

My greatest challenge is staying positive. I am 90 percent of the time, but when I think about future plans, it's difficult. We are planning on moving to FL in five years when my daughter graduates high school. Will I be here in five years? Will I get to see my daughter graduate? Of course only God knows when my time is up and I choose to believe I still have work to do here.

My family gives me the love and hope I need to keep fighting and God gives me the strength to do it.

First Published: October 23, 2013

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