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Jennifer N

When I was only 36 years old, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer with mets to my bones. We were all very surprised as I had never smoked and had not lived or worked with a smoker. The statistics for surviving were grim. We thought I would be dead within six months. I had my husband, a 13 year old nephew living with us and our son who was 5 and daughter who was 3. I thought I was not going to get to see my children grow up.

There was only one genetic mutation at that time and I did not have that one, but my doctor was sure it was a mutation. Sure enough when the ALK mutation was discovered, I tested positive. However, this did not change my treatment as the new treatments still did not exist. I had started with surgery to remove the spot in my lung. Then I moved onto chemo with carboplatnen. When that was completed, I continued with Alimta. I had treatment on and off until 2015. I chose to take breaks from chemo when my symptoms had subsided. I would re-start when the pain or growth of tumors were back. This allowed for me to have some normal quality of life.

Finally, in 2015, the Alimta stopped working, but by this time new medications were available for ALK positive patients. I began taking the Xalkori pill. After a couple of months, my symptoms improved again and I am still going strong! My nephew is now successful in college. My son is about to turn 13 and my daughter is 10! I am so thankful that I have been able to see my children grow and I am excited to know I will continue to get to.

Cancer is hard and it of course changed my life. I know I will keep fighting and hoping.

First published: December 11, 2015

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