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A set of illustrated lungs battling each other with boxing gloves. One side is healthy and the other side is not.

Beating Incurable Terminal Stage IV Lung Cancer

During a recent conversation, a friend was surprised to realize my lung cancer is a terminal disease. She was under the impression that I was beating lung cancer.

I was surprised too. I thought everyone knew. I’ve been very open, honest, and public about my stage IV terminal diagnosis and my fight to stay alive.

Perception versus reality

I know many other people think the same. On the outside I look like a normal, healthy person. I’m out walking my dog and finishing 5Ks. I don’t fit the perception of a stage IV, terminal cancer patient. After almost every three month check-up I have good news to report. A majority of the time my periodic scans and labs show the cancer is stable, shrinking or diminished to the point of not even being visible on a scan.

Until now, my initial reaction was to correct and educate about how there is no cure for stage IV lung cancer and how I am still fighting, always will be and there is no beating it.

Treating lung cancer as a chronic disease

Stage IV lung cancer can not be cured with the scientific knowledge and treatments currently available. My terminal, late stage, lung cancer is being managed similarly to chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure. These potentially fatal chronic diseases are managed with medications, allowing people to live otherwise normal lives. My chronically terminal lung cancer is being treated to keep it at bay, not as a cure.

I’m living with the most advanced stage of lung cancer, stage IV, which means the cancer has metastasized (spread) from my lungs to other parts of my body. Lung cancer tends to metastasize to the liver, bones, and brain. In my case, it’s my bones. When I was diagnosed, the cancer had already metastasized to my spine.

An ongoing boxing match

I am fighting incurable, terminal, lung cancer. I’m surviving which means I’m still in the fight. Thinking of this “fight”, let’s say one month of lung cancer is equivalent to one round in a boxing match. I’m coming out of round forty-one, on top, and entering round forty-two. Thinking this way, lung cancer has only won two or maybe three times. But I survived. So, as I write this article, I’m declaring myself the winner of those rounds. In turn, I’m beating lung cancer.

Unless they find a cure for stage IV lung cancer, I’ll be in treatment and in this fight forever. The hope is to continue my current treatment as long as possible and to still be alive when new treatments are developed and available to me when I need them.

I will have the last punch

Since my diagnosis, I’ve had this idea that my fight will be over when I’m dead and can’t fight anymore. Me dying will not only be the end of me but the end to my lung cancer as well. I’ve never envisioned this end as losing to lung cancer or anything but a victory. When I die, no matter what the circumstances, I will get the last punch and I’m taking lung cancer down with me.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The LungCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • jenniferroseolson
    2 months ago

    I just had my 60th chemo treatment for stage IV NSCLC last week (since April 2015). This article definitely resonates with me. we walk in two worlds between our active lifestyle and our cancer-center-forever lifestyle. Best wishes for continued stability.

  • Lisa Moran moderator author
    2 months ago

    Thank you, jennifer! Even close friends and family don’t 100% understand the “cancer-center-forever” part of our lives. I think they see what they need to see. They have so much hope for us. They hold on to only the good days and tend to not process the bad days and information very well.

    Happy 4 year cancerversary to you.

  • jaelle
    4 months ago

    Hi Lisa, your journey in fighting lung cancer is inspiring! May I know how do you find the strength and also how did you deal with the persistent cough that comes with lung cancer?

  • Lisa Moran moderator author
    4 months ago

    Hello janelle! I think some of my strength is maybe something I was born with. It’s just and I don’t think about it. I did write about that a while back, https://peacelungshappiness.blogspot.com/2018/02/where-do-i-get-my-strength.html?m=1

    I haven’t had the persistent cough since 2015. At the time, I didn’t know why I had the cough, I just put up with it and kept coughing through life, work and exercise.

    When I started treatment the cough went away.

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    4 months ago

    Cheers to you in getting a grasp of this. I truly believe and can attest to living your life like golden. Continue that mindset of fighting to the very end and taking lung cancer down to the very end. Best!

  • Leo 74
    4 months ago

    I had chills while reading your article. So many similarities. Until August last year as an avid runner I was capable of running half marathons. I was diagnosed stage 4 nsclc at age 73. I am still running 5k’s. I am told I am in perfect health except for cancer. I am told constantly I look great, would never guess I am sick. I am thrilled so far with my treatment progress (using Tagrisso) but I can’t get rid of the fear that this disease has the capability of turning ugly fast. It is my intention to live every day to its fullest. I am very positive but also know reality. God bless!

  • Lisa Moran moderator author
    4 months ago

    Hi Leo! I’m EGFR also. The best that we can do is do our best to continue the activities we love. It’s scary to live between scans. But it is easier for me when I stay busy and have events to look forward to.

  • Leo 74
    4 months ago

    Absolutely! Running is my favorite activity. Spending time with family/friends always good. Picking up some old hobbies that I haven’t had time for in years. I worked full time up until the big C hit, driving my wife crazy now! Having fun!

  • SARAH
    4 months ago

    I laughed at the round 42 comment. I was first diagnosed with Stage II breast which two years later went to multiple sites including the brain and stage IV, then diagnosed with a completely different stage IV lung cancer with question then on other sites belonging to which mama cancer. In 2014, I was sent home to “get my affairs in order”. Not being one to go quietly, I went to a different cancer center and received immunotherapy. Scans every 3 months and all is quiet and I AM STILL HERE!!! Like many others, I refer to it as my sleeping tiger and please don’t wake it up. You know it will eventually come out of hibernation but you have to live your life in the meantime and live it with as much laughter as you can find so thanks for the “round 42” comment. Made my day.

  • Lisa Moran moderator author
    4 months ago

    Thanks! Being happy, living life and laughing is my best medicine. But I wouldn’t laugh too loud. You don’t want to wake up that tiger. 😉

  • SARAH
    4 months ago

    Haha. Sleep little kitty, sleep.

  • peaceburro
    4 months ago

    Congratulations, Lisa – strong work. I am in round 22 going on 23, and often field the same type of inquiry from well-meaning friends and family. With inoperable Stage IIIB it is difficult to express what ‘curative intent’ meant with my treatment, and the fact that half of the tumor, whether dead or alive, is still there. We have moved past the breakthrough approval treatment length of a new immunotherapy, and people look a bit confused when we explain that the Dr’s do not have a protocol for future treatment, but are hopeful that we will, soon. I keep turning the pedals regardless of what the future holds. See you out on the trails!

  • Lisa Moran moderator author
    4 months ago

    Unless it’s happened to them or an immediate loved one, people just don’t understand lung cancer and treatment options for the different types and stages. It doesn’t seem, no matter how much you educate, people only remember and act on what they knew about cancer before your diagnosis.

  • ChaCha 70
    4 months ago

    You are an inspiration to me and others I have the same diagnosis and people say the same things about me looking healthy and normal and in a fight everyday we are very blessed fight on my sister and so shall I ❤️

  • Lisa Moran moderator author
    4 months ago

    Thank you, ChaCha. I’m finding this article is hitting close to home for many people. It is difficult when others don’t completely understand our terminal diagnosis.

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