It was 2010 when the bronchial infection that I picked up on my recent trip to Egypt was still lingering, so I decided to visit my doctor. It was unlike me to not bounce back quickly from an infection, so my doctor recommended an X-ray. The X-ray revealed spots on both of my lungs. I would soon be diagnosed with squamous-cell lung cancer and adenocarcinoma. An additional spot would later be identified as bronchioloalveolar carcinoma, a rare form of adenocarcinoma.
This diagnosis came as a huge surprise! I’ve been active my whole life, both physically and professionally. My career in nonprofit administration and volunteer coordination kept me busy as did my volunteer work with Kiwanis, Rotary and Beaux Arts, an organization that supports the Fort Lauderdale (NSU) Museum of Art. As a person of faith, my first response to such devastating health news was just to give it up to God, right there in the doctor’s office, I put it in God's hands.
I soon traveled to John’s Hopkins Medical Center for a second opinion. My diagnosis was confirmed and my doctors there recommended surgery and chemotherapy. My lifelong sensitivity to various medications caused me to reject chemotherapy. Surgery also didn’t seem like the right decision for me either. Thankfully, Cyberknife radiation therapy became available shortly after my diagnosis and in spite of the initial 17 to 18-month prognosis I received, I’ve been living fully for more than nine years since my diagnosis. I use the term “living fully” because this is the choice I made at the time of my diagnosis and the choice that I make each and every day. I choose to live a normal life, keep busy and exercise a minimum of an hour each day. This has kept me happy and going. So much so that I’ve earned the nickname “energizer bunny” in the South Florida community in which I live. If I had to provide advice to anyone experiencing a lung cancer diagnosis it would be this, stay active and positive as possible, give back through volunteering, live your life each day fully and put it all in God's hands.