Advocate Spotlight: Angie

LungCancer.net shares the stories and experiences of people living with lung cancer. We are highlighting the story of our advocate Angie who received her stage IV lung cancer diagnosis after numerous misdiagnoses.

This is Angie's story...

Angie's diagnosis story

For months I had been coughing incessantly, losing weight, not sleeping, struggling to catch my breath doing simple tasks, and feeling sluggish. I laid in the hospital while doctors diagnosed me with all types of potential maladies from the dreaded tuberculosis to rare diseases like sarcoidosis and lipoid pneumonia.

As I laid in my literal death bed with my lungs drowning in pleural fluid and surrounded by confounded close friends and family, they finally found the culprit: advanced-stage adenocarcinoma -- more commonly known as stage 4 lung cancer.

The doctors were just as baffled as I was. This was never a possibility for them because I didn’t fit the profile of a typical lung cancer patient and yet here I was, an atypical lung cancer patient. I had surgery to remove fluid from my left lung and doctors sent the fluid for genetic testing. This is when the silver lining appeared and I tested positive for a ROS1 genetic mutation which meant that I could take a targeted chemotherapy pill that could keep the cancer in check by turning off the driver signal for cancerous cells to keep growing.

Treatment options and decisions

Since the diagnosis, it hasn’t completely been smooth sailing. Right as the pandemic lockdown was taking effect, I discovered a suspicious lump in the same area I had my lung drain previously put in. A biopsy confirmed that it was cancerous and that unfortunately it had ‘translocated’ from non-small cell adenocarcinoma to another cancer type called large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma. I had radiotherapy which follow-up scans indicated that was ‘successful’ however in June 2020, I found myself starting what would be 6 cycles of chemotherapy.

Fast forward to today, MRI and PET scans, biopsies, and blood results all show no active tumor cells present in my system. I am grateful for this amazing news and can breathe a huge sigh of relief for now, especially since now is all we ever really have.

Finding joy and inspiration

I know it sounds cliche but my kids are my biggest inspiration and bring me the greatest joy. Watching them grow into incredible human beings before my very eyes daily is truly a blessing.

Something most people don't know...

I’m ambidextrous (I can write with both left and right hand).

I was born a lefty but was trained to write with my right hand in a strict nursery and kindergarten so now I’m ambidextrous with bad handwriting.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on May 26, 2021, Angie Brice Hessbruegge passed away. Angie's thoughtful writings and advocacy efforts will continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.

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