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Carole B

Carole smiling

In March 2011, after worsening back pain, I visited my physiatrist who ordered an MRI. When I saw her for the results, she was speechless; my upper body was "riddled with lesions". I was 54 years old and never smoked; I insisted there was some kind of mix-up with my scans.

A few days later, after various scans and tests, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer. As a non-smoker, and being very athletic (I ran 3 miles the evening before my diagnosis without discomfort or shortness of breath), my doctors predicted I would have the EGFR mutation, and the biopsy results proved they were right. After 9 months of almost complete remission on the targeted therapy, Tarceva, I developed resistance, and over the next four years participated in several clinical trials, including immunotherapy, as well as first line chemo, all with varying results. I have also been on blood thinners since the diagnosis because of a DVT that was found at the time of diagnosis.

My life has been a challenging roller coaster ride, living with uncertainty, and trying to function with ever-changing side effects. The good days are priceless, and I make a constant effort to keep up my athletic routine to sustain my sanity. This spring will be my five year anniversary, and I am grateful for the support of my family, my husband and three children, my friends, and my medical team, as well as those who are raising awareness of lung cancer in women.

First published: December 16, 2015

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