LUNG FORCE Heroes
Hello all, my name is Angela. I'm 46 year old. I first was impacted by lung cancer at an early age seven, to be exact. I lost my grandfather to this disease in 1978.
In 1999 my father was diagnosed with lung cancer and in 2000 he lost his battle to this horrific disease. Both my grandfather and daddy were smokers. Losing my daddy was devastating, I was 30 years old. I'm definitely a daddy's girl.
Now to my very own journey. It was October 2014, I was diagnosed with tongue cancer. I bit my tongue one day at work and it never healed. Keep in mind that I've never smoked a day in my life, nor have I ever been a heavy drinker. They also tested me to see if my tongue cancer was came from the HPV virus, which it had not. They tell me it was from second hand smoke. They were able to remove the tumor of my tongue, removing 1/3 of my tongue along with a neck dissection, and removing 30 lymph nodes. The good news is that all my lymph nodes were clear which means I didn't need further treatment. I got through my surgery, I had to go out on medical leave from a job I simply adored. I was a dialysis technician.
To make this story a little shorter, in September 2015 I became really short of breath. I went to urgent care and that's when they found a spot (cavity) on my upper right lobe. The exact date was September 9, 2015. On October 18, 2015, I was diagnosed with stage 3 non small cell lung cancer. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, but I knew I had to fight. I have four boys a grandson that desperately needed me! I didn't have time to cry; beast mode kicked in. I started radiation five days a week along with chemo once a week for six weeks. There were days I'd look up to the sky and think of my daddy and papa, I couldn't believe I was actually going through the same thing. I have my faith and a wonderful family that absolutely adores me. My boys are my world and all they know is their mother always had to be strong.
It was February 2016, the cancer went to my adrenal gland. Now they tell me I have stage 4 NSCLC. I was in the hospital on my lap top when I came across immunotherapy. I called my oncologist from my hospital bed asking her could I please try nivolumab. Her first response was, "My dear, aren't you in the hospital?" I replied yes, she said, "You must get your rest, you are really sick," but I stressed to her the urgency of getting on this treatment. I had read a lot of positive stories. I mean, what do I have to lose? She said, "Let me check with my colleagues and I will get back with you."
I'm blessed to say I started the medication on March 2, 2016 and I've been on this treatment ever since; 16 months to be exact. I feel absolutely wonderful, my cancer is stable. They say I will never be cured, but I trust God as my healer. I'm very fortunate to have a team of doctors and nurses at Kaiser that take the best care of me. I tell myself daily, I have cancer, cancer does not have me! There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of my father, for I was with him as he took his last breath. But to see the how far treatments have become for this devil is simply amazing.
I say to each of you that are going through this or have a love one going though this, we must never lose hope.
First published: July 7, 2017
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