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Lisa M

My name is Lisa. I live in Colorado Springs. In August of 2015, at the age of 44, I went from having a very active, healthy, life with a persistent cough and a little shortness of breath, to finding out I have stage IV non small cell lung cancer. At the time of my diagnosis my lung cancer had already spread throughout both my lungs and to my spine.

How could this be? I was an on again off again smoker in my teens and twenties and had quit smoking 14 years before my diagnosis. I had no pain. I was a city letter carrier on walking routes. I would go to runner's club once a week, after a full day of work. Just weeks before my diagnosis I climbed the Manitou Incline and ran down the Barr Trail, for the first time. The incline has more steps than the Empire State Building.

My lung cancer has no cure. Surgery is not an option. My cancer can be managed. I had 10 radiation treatments to shrink the largest tumor in my upper right lobe. My cough and shortness of breath disappeared. I started my chemotherapy. Because my cancer has the EGFR genetic mutation, my chemo is a pill that I take once a day.

My first follow up PET scan showed the large lung tumor had disappeared. All the tiny star-like nodules throughout both my lungs were gone too. Since then I had a radiation treatment to the spinal tumor to help reduce some new pain it was causing.

I'm slowly getting back to the new normal. Luckily, I've experienced minimal treatment side effects. Adjusting to lower energy levels is more of a mental than physical challenge. I have little pain. I still go to work. I participated in the Run the Rocks 5k in October 2015 and completed a 6K trail race in November 2015. With good doctors, the latest treatments and my positive attitude, I am now continuing to live an active, otherwise healthy life with lung cancer.

First published: January 7, 2016

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