CHARLOTTE, NC | September 8, 2022
Vicky Denise Foster is a middle-aged, non-smoking female diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2018. Shortly thereafter Vicky recollects being partnered with a fellow lung cancer survivor Mike Smith, on a drive to a cancer retreat in Greensboro. “From that moment, I knew I was not alone. With the support of my partner in crime Mike, the Lung Association, my doctors at Novant Health, my bright-eyed daughter and my nurturing family and friends, I knew I would LIVE and LIVE LONG. I could not accept anything else,” Vicky emphatically states.
Looking back, Vicky remembers taking a spin class when she could not breathe. “I thought, I must just be tired and left the class. I tried the class the following week with unfortunately the same result. I followed up with my primary care physician and within two weeks, I was undergoing my first radiation treatment. It was an absolute whirlwind. Just imagine, going from balancing it all - being a single mother, successful career woman with a master’s degree, fitness instructor, having an active social life and then being told you have Stage 4 lung cancer that has metastasized to your brain and spine,” Vicky candidly shares.
“I realized then that I was on a long and arduous journey for the rest of my long life. Rehabilitating myself physically and mentally, learning to walk again, breathe without assistance, and caring for myself was more than I could endure alone. So, one of my fitness students graciously became my care giver and my daughter’s nanny for a year. I became unemployed in 2019 and was forced to enter the social services system learning quickly and earnestly how to get financial support for food, shelter, gas, childcare, and healthcare. All from a new perspective of someone who actually needed help and one who was no longer self-sufficient or independent. This was all eye opening and extremely humbling,” remarks Vicky.
Following that trying year, Vicky recalls her final job interview for an IT position and candidly sharing her circumstances, revealing how often she would need to attend doctor appointments. “The company made me a 100% remote worker offer and I was once again reminded of my village of support. That was three years ago in November. I distinctly remember that month because my social assistance was due to expire. After one entire year of being flat on my back, literally, I was making progress against this diagnosis.” Vicky candidly shares.
Today, Vicky happily enjoys live music, cultural festivals, travel, taking her daughter to concerts, plays, parks and the beach. At the same time, Vicky values her alone time taking walks, spending a day at the nail salon, and engaging with positive people. “Life, joy, the special moments, unique destinations, my laughter and hearing my daughter’s laughter – those are the moments I cherish and appreciate,” Vicky joyfully shares.
Looking ahead, Vicky is excited to join Smith and other LUNG FORCE Heroes at the LUNG FORCE Turquoise Tasting on Thursday, October 13 at 6:30 p.m. As a one-of-a-kind cocktail reception, the event combines custom elements with unique food and beverage pairings, a silent auction, live music, a putting green competition and other interactive activities. “I encourage you to attend and hear firsthand from lung cancer survivors and how we all need and deserve that village of support. This fundraising event is truly inspiring, and it gives me hope that with our continued collective efforts, we will be well on our way to eventually making lung cancer a thing of the past,” Vicky brightly shares.
Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the U.S. and here in North Carolina, it is estimated that 8,760 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2022, and 4,750 people will die from the disease. However, there is hope for people like Vicky. Thanks in part to the work of the American Lung Association, the lung cancer survival rate has increased to nearly 22% and awareness of this deadly disease has steadily increased.
Local events like LUNG FORCE Turquoise Tasting are helping to fund lung cancer education and research. The LUNG FORCE Turquoise Tasting will take place on Thursday, October 13 at 6:30 p.m. To buy tickets or inquire about becoming a corporate sponsor please visit CharlotteTurquoiseTasting.org.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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