Valerie H

Valerie H., MI

Just over three weeks ago my brother drove himself to the emergency room with severe shortness of breath. He thought he was having a heart attack. The hospital took a chest X-Ray and told him that it showed a mass in his left lung and that fluid had built up around his lung and would need to be drained. Over a gallon of fluid was drained from his chest. The biopsy of the fluid revealed that he had non-small cell lung cancer. Stage IV. No words can describe the feeling that hits you at the moment you hear those words. Perhaps like you have been hit in the gut and the heart at the same time and the world stops moving. You are numb, but you are not numb. You can't feel anything, and you are feeling everything. You ask questions but you don't really hear the answers. You can only hear the word, "cancer". You want to know what the odds of beating it are but you are afraid to ask because you don't really want to hear the answer. My brother will begin chemo-therapy in a week. Radiation and surgery are not options. We are told that lung cancer isn't curable, only treatable. Our plan is to continue to treat it with the hope that one day it will become curable and my brother can beat it. We will certainly fight to keep him as healthy as possible for as many years as we can. He is 56 years old and very strong and healthy otherwise. We know that will help him considerably in his fight to come. Reading about the battles that others are fighting with cancer makes you stronger. You realize that you are not alone. My brother continues to share his story with the hope of making more people aware of lung cancer and how to prevent it. He was a smoker that had quit and is now determined that he will help others to quit by making them aware of his story and his feelings and fears. Cancer is not something that happens to "someone else" and prevention and awareness are certainly the best weapons against it. It takes courage and strength both to fight it and to support a loved one who is fighting it. Thank-you for sharing your stories and for allowing me to share mine. Keep the faith and a positive attitude. We are striving to do the same. The photo I am sharing is my brother and I on our journey to the U of M Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI. Let the battle begin.

First Published: April 25, 2014

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