Advocate Spotlight: Lalaine
LungCancer.net shares the stories and experiences of people living with lung cancer. We are highlighting the story of our advocate Lalaine who was diagnosed with ALK positive lung cancer. No matter what lung cancer throws her way, Lalaine is determined not to allow her illness to rob her of the simple joys of life.
The beginning of my journey
My never-smoker lung cancer diagnosis began on December 4, 2019. I sought medical attention due to shortness of breath and a nagging cough. My general physician asked for an x-ray and saw fluid in my right lung. I was immediately rushed to the emergency and underwent a pleural tap.
I thought giving birth was the most painful thing on earth but for me the needle decompression topped the pain. There was a brief relief in my breathing.
Immunochemistry tests and more scans
After a few days, I got to see a thoracic surgeon who did another thoracentesis for staging and IHC-FISH test. He made sure the pleural effusion was under control through x-rays and CT scans. My breathing was way better.
However, I had a sore in the two punctured areas. After a week, the thoracic surgeon referred me to the authorized cancer agency for treatment. He said having stage IV adenocarcinoma was too late for thoracic surgery.
In January 2020, my brain MRI confirmed an asymptomatic brain metastasis while my IHC-FISH test results showed I have an ALK oncogene. My radiology oncologist discussed the gamma knife as one of the treatment options for my brain tumor. Still he said I am ALK Positive so I can be treated with an ALK inhibitor. The medical oncologist agreed and put me on the approved first-line targeted therapy treatment commonly called a TKI.
TKI side effects
The TKI cancer drug has not me from common side effects. Fatigue is top on the list. I take naps and not overdo my physical activities. The drug also causes weight gain so I manage it through a strict diet plan. Hence, the nutrition facts are so important.
In addition, I experience muscle pains. I find relief from daily home workouts, indoor biking, gentle yoga exercises, and massages. Though my body is responding well to my treatment, I am still actively monitored through blood tests and scans.
Finding my specialists and support groups
I have not allowed my illness to rob me from enjoying the simple joys of life. As a survivor, I have a choice to appreciate the good things in life despite my illness. The mandated cancer care agency where I live has provided me the best care from treatment to surveillance. Even their nutrition counseling and psychosocial support have made a positive impact on my cancer journey. I am very thankful to have a dedicated health care team.
I find there is time to encourage and be encouraged once you are in patient-driven online support groups. They offer so much help, resources, and inspiration to patients and caregivers. I have seen so many lives prolonged due to treatment advancements through research. This has driven me to find more supporters in raising funds for lung cancer research.
Sharing my story and the other side of me
During the pandemic, I discovered the art of expressive writing. It has given me joy sharing my personal journey. I have been fortunate I am able to use my small voice in spreading awareness in different lung cancer avenues.
I love cooking and baking. Pinterest is the phone App I use to get user-friendly recipes. My family appreciates they have an in-house Chef. My heart jumps for joy every time I get successful in making the recipes.
Are you satisfied with your care team?