Shelley M

Shelley M., AR

When I went to the doctor with pain in my lower right side, I never expected to find out that I had lung cancer. 

It took a lot of tests before finding out that lung cancer was the cause of my pain. I had almost given in to the fact that I would be living the rest of my life in this excruciating pain. It wasn’t until a nurse noticed that my pulse ox was steadily decreasing over six months, that we realized something was wrong. 

I did have signs of lung cancer, a persistent cough, shortness of breath with activity and pain in my back/lower right side. However, I have never been a smoker, nor do I have a history of lung cancer in my family. There were no risk factors.

There is one thing I have learned since my diagnosis, all you need for lung cancer is lungs, and we all have those. I was 40 when I was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer. Hearing the doctor tell you about the prognosis for this type of disease can be overwhelmingly devastating. It made it even harder to be diagnosed in September of 2020, with the fears of COVID-19 and the isolation that it brought. It has been so important to have a therapist to help me navigate this whole emotional journey.

This experience has taught me that there is a lack of education on the signs and symptoms of lung cancer. It is shrouded in a stigma that only smokers get lung cancer, and this is just not true. I have met so many people since being diagnosed that were not smokers yet still have lung cancer. Whether we are a smoker or not, this disease will not discriminate.

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