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Sandy B., TN

I have always lived what we considered a clean lifestyle. Working out, watching our weight, eating good food and working hard.  We had very few vices that you would associate with contracting lung cancer.

I noticed I had a cough in February 2017 and visited my OBGYN in late March and mentioned the cough. I was told I had allergies.

The next day I had an appointment with a different doctor, I mentioned cough and was again told I had allergies.

About a month later I visited my internal medicine doctor and saw his PA about my cough and, you guessed it, I was told I had allergies. They gave me inhalers and a pill called the Pearl. Nothing stopped my cough and it got worse. 

At the end of July, I went back to the internal medicine doctor again, saw the PA and they finally did an x-ray and was told me I had pneumonia. I took medicine for one week did not see improvement. I called back the next week and it was told it was normal to have a cough. 

Long story short I called back every week for a month. I demanded a second x-ray on September 12, 2017, andI was referred to a pulmonary specialist on September 13, 2017.  He did a CT scan with contrast, later that evening he called and gave us the news. He found a mass in my right upper lung behind my heart. He wanted to move quickly. So, on September 14 I had a lung biopsy and it was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in both lungs, my lymph node and they found a large inoperable mass in the upper right lobe. All the doctor could say was that he was sorry.

My parents arrived in town that night and it was one of the hardest days of my life when I had to tell my family and friends that I had Stage 4 lung cancer. I kept thinking they have misdiagnosed this, and they are going to figure it out any day.

The next stop was to meet to my new oncologist. In late September they did more testing and boy did this biopsy hurt! It revealed I had the EGFR mutation and was PDL negative, the cancer had not gone to my brain or anywhere else!

October 13 was my first day of treatment! We dressed to the nines and went to see the doctor and decided it was the first day of the rest of my life. Lots of prayers happened in the parking lot of the office before and after these visits.

In the beginning I had to visit the doctor's office every two weeks for blood work and my blood was always perfect. I met inspiring people who had various diagnosis but had this wonderful spirit that lifted each other up during our moments in the waiting room or when we interacted.

Symptoms of the targeted medicine I take is a rash. Boy, did I get the rash from one end to the other. In my hair and other places! 

The first follow up scan was December 14 and on December 15 the doctor shared the great results. Lymph nodes were clear, left lung lesions were gone, right lung lesions were gone and the mass in my upper right lobe was 70% smaller!

February 14, 2018, my next scan and February 15 the report was even better, more shrinkage. 

April 5, 2018 was my next scan and the results were awesome. The mass had gone from bigger than a golf ball to smaller than a dime since treatment had started six months ago. The important remark by the doctor was the scan could not see anything feeding the remaining tissue. They felt it was becoming scar tissue.

On July 11, 2018 I had my last scan and I visited with the PA of the oncology doctor. More good news. Apparently, a smaller mass in my lower right lobe had completely resolved and they felt the upper mass had no growth and was slightly smaller. 

August 24. I visited the doctor again and was told I don't have to have a blood test or come back for three months. It feels great to not have to go every month or six weeks.

Did I mention this whole time my blessing is that I have never felt sick or had symptoms you would associate with lung cancer and the traditional treatment?

We just celebrated my one-year anniversary of the diagnosis. Looking back, my faith, my husband and my friends have been the biggest strength I could ask for in dealing with this scary disease. 

I am now more physically fit and a healthy person. It has become important to take advantage of my wellbeing. I spend more time in the gym and working on my diet. I have always prayed but I feel that my relationship with my Lord and Savior has become more intimate and he won't give me what I can't handle. Prayer is important, people all over the world were praying for me.

It takes a positive mind set and willpower to visualize yourself as healthy. I am one who will not just survive but flourish, and I will enjoy many years of wonderful adventures and memories yet to be made. These are the things I would share with people who find themselves in a similar situation. I feel so blessed and thankful.

That's my bump in the road.

First Published: October 3, 2018

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