Advocate Spotlight: Patti
LungCancer.net shares the stories and experiences of people living with lung cancer. We are highlighting the story of our advocate Patti who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013 and later became her mother's caregiver following her own lung cancer diagnosis.
This is Patti’s story...
Both a survivor and caregiver
A suspicious spot was found on my lung when a CT was done after a car accident. Five years later, in August 2013, my little spot turned ugly and lung cancer became a constant companion. I have had clean scans since my lung cancer surgery. The surgery, however, has left me with life long consequences and has changed my life.
My companionship with lung cancer grew ever greater when, 4 years later, my mom was diagnosed. My mom’s lung cancer diagnosis came as a shock since she had always been pretty healthy. For me, it was an immediate shift from patient to caregiver.
Juggling treatment decisions, asthma, and caregiving
The early detection of my lung cancer made it possible to have surgery as my treatment. I feel very fortunate in that respect. I handled the surgery well, as was expected. However unforeseen effects reared up just a week after surgery and life has not been the same since.
I have asthma. Prior to lung cancer, it was not much of a factor in my life. A large portion of my left lung was removed. The remaining portion was supposed to function normally. I was not supposed to feel any decrease in lung capacity. I was fit, healthy, active and asthma was just a footnote in my health history.
Well, that didn’t play out as expected. The small portion of remaining lung doesn’t function as it should. My airway was decidedly unhappy with the entire process, my vocal cords decided they didn’t want to function properly anymore and my asthma morphed into a debilitating, annoying, and life-altering companion.
My mom’s cancer was tested for biomarkers. Targeted therapies were used for her course of treatment. Chemotherapy was not an option for her by choice and age. She had an amazing geriatric oncologist who was frank with her but so extremely compassionate and kind. My mom responded well to her therapies but they were merely a tool to afford her more time, quality time, with her family and friends. My mom passed away in October 2019.
In awe of my family every day
I have three adult children. They are awesome people with amazing partners to share their lives. Watching them live happy, successful lives gives me great joy. I look at them in awe every day. My extended family and friends are amazing sources of happiness and camaraderie.
Cultivating my gardening skills, living an active and productive life makes me happy and very grateful. In whatever small way I can, giving back to my family, especially my children who have been so supportive through my lung cancer journey, to my friends, and to my community brings me great joy.
I am inspired every day by my dear friend who has suffered an unimaginable loss, yet she still smiles, lives a full life, gives of herself to her family, friends, and community...she teaches me, inspires me, and encourages me to move forward in my life.
Something people may not know...
I am an outer space nerd. I don’t pretend to be knowledgeable about most of it. It is all at once fascinating, awe-inspiring, and terrifying to me. I track the International Space Station with gusto!!
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?