It began when my primary physician ordered a CT scan to determine why I was having pelvic pain. She called me a few days later with the results and said:
“Your CT scan went high enough to capture a tiny mass in your right lung. I don’t want you to jump to any conclusions but I am going to refer you to an oncologist.”
The oncologist ordered several scans and blood draws and then told me the PET scan picked up a few lymph nodes that could be a problem and that surgery was the next step.
To my surprise it was performed by a robot called Da Vinci, with a human surgeon in charge. Four slits were made in my right side for Da Vinci’s arms and camera with a fifth incision for the drainage tube. The two lower lobes of my right lung and 17 lymph nodes were removed. The report that came back from the lab was that it was a stage 2B non-small cell carcinoma and only 2 lymph nodes were infected. I was in the hospital for 5 days and had four chemo treatments, three weeks apart.
What concerned me the most was my decreased breathing capacity and the anxiety that produced. It took a full six months before I felt almost back to normal. Once you have lung cancer, statistics claim a recurrence may happen within five years. So, please continue funding lung cancer research.
I am inspired to participate in the advocacy work because I have experienced how scary a cancer diagnosis is. I had never even thought about being told I had cancer. Then one day it hits you in the face and your life changes. I’m lucky to have caught it early. That saved my life. I want the same opportunity for anyone that faces this diagnosis.
At this point in my story, I want to tell the world that the funding for cancer research to NIH and CDC made a difference in my having an early diagnosis. It is important the continued funding goes to NIH so others can have a similar benefit. People need to be educated in the signs of lung cancer and that they know screening is available to them. The Center for Disease Control takes this message to the American people. They can continue their work with sustained funding.