Michelle A : CO

Since my initial lung cancer diagnosis in December of 2015, my life as I once knew has forever changed. I was a non-smoker, young (45 years), and in good health other than rheumatoid arthritis. I was physically active and enjoyed my many outdoor activities like hiking, skiing and biking. I found I looked at my new life with cancer much differently. I was one of the more lucky ones who caught it very early, only requiring my upper right lobe to be removed. I wasn't placed on any chemotherapy or radiation since the doctors felt the cancer didn’t spread and was all removed in the surgery. I went back to work, and continued to workout, ski, hike, bike, etc.

That was until January of 2018, when it metastasized to my brain. Again, I was fortunate to only require a specific radiation called Stereostatic Radiosurgery and was placed on a targeted therapy drug which has prolonged my life. However, I will never be the same as I once was. I do a lot of what I used to but much slower and with limitations. Any sort of physical activity takes more effort and I struggle to get air at times. It seems each year brings more challenges of what I can do and for how long. I'm definitely not as strong as I used to be. The brain metastases have also affected my cognition and focus. With side effects, I have to plan around when going anywhere, especially when traveling. It has also brought me tremendous emotional stress throughout all this. I remain on my targeted therapy drug. I also get PET and MRI scans every six months to check for new cancers. With the scans comes the associated stress while awaiting the results and hoping cancer hasn’t spread.

I work each day attempting to remain positive and not allow it to control my mind or affect my body. And in a weird way it has also been a blessing. It has made me even more willing to go and do things I may have put off in the past. It has encouraged me to travel more (pre- pandemic), not take some things so seriously, live each day as if it's my last, and to have an even more appreciative outlook on life. Since 2018, I've been given more time to pursue hidden talents in artwork and volunteer my time with animals. I cherish every moment I have with my loving husband and continue to have a positive mindset so I can enjoy every day I’m given.

First Published: 11/16/2020 2:27:59 PM

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