Reflections on 2019

As 2019 comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on the positive and negative things that have happened this past year which have impacted my life.

Six years living with lung cancer

On the positive side, I survived another year with stage IV lung cancer! This means that in the course of 2019, I have had four lung and cervical spine CT scans, two brain MRIs, 365 targeted therapy pills, and numerous other oncologist visits, blood tests, and bone strengthening IV infusions. This will make my 6th year living with this disease, something that did not seem possible when I was first diagnosed.

Celebrating family milestones

Also this year, I was lucky enough to see my older son start college, travel to Barcelona for advocacy work, and take several trips to fun locations in the United States with my family. One of our highlights was traveling to Elkins, West Virginia and taking pictures with signs all over town. No, we have no true connection to the town (other than sharing our last name with it) but we’ve wanted to make this trip for years for the fun photoshoot possibilities. We even met the mayor of Elkins who gave us the key to the city!

Ivy in front of Welcome to Elkins sign with mayor and sons

Proud of our advocacy work

My group that I co-founded, the EGFR Resisters, has continued to grow and gain attention. We have been invited to give presentations at a number of major oncology conferences and to several non-profit and industry groups. In the last month, we have even launched a brand new initiative to raise money for a patient-driven, investigator-led EGFR research project in collaboration with LUNGevity. Please visit LUNGevity's website to learn more.

Remembering those we lost this year

On the negative side, I have lost a number of friends this year from lung cancer. This is definitely the downside of being involved in the lung cancer community. Two of my co-founders of the EGFR Resisters — Teri Kennedy and Anita Figueras — passed away within days of each other this past summer. My close friend Erin Saraurer, also an “EGFR Resister,” passed away in the fall.

The longer I live with lung cancer, the more friends I lose to the disease, which is very sad and frankly often difficult to handle. I continue with my advocacy work in order to make sense of these losses by turning my grief into increased efforts to make a change. I continue to hope for a world where these losses will not continue to happen and we can make lung cancer into a chronic, manageable disease.

Hopes for 2020

I know people who do not like to “celebrate” their cancerversary, but I always celebrate mine. I plan to spend December 26th, my diagnosis date, on the beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico with my husband and two sons. I am hoping and praying that 2020 will be a good year for all of us.

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