Amidst a collection of abstract patterns in squares representing pain and symptoms, a person's silhouette looks peaceful.

Coping With My Symptoms As They Come

Having stage 4 lung cancer may be incurable but my effective treatment and ongoing care has led me living a better quality of life. Despite surviving for years, I am not exempt from challenges or struggles brought by the different symptoms of lung cancer..

Dealing with lung cancer and my symptom management strategies

These symptoms are realities I have lived with for as long as I have had lung cancer. I have discovered strategies for dealing with them.

Shortness of breath

One of the upsetting symptoms of lung cancer is experiencing shortness of breath. I noticed it comes with physical activity or while resting.

Breathing problems can be alarming but there are ways I am managing it. More healthy ways can relieve it for as long as I aim for eight glasses of water, practice gentle/deep breathing exercises, get enough rest, eat healthy diet, and even avoid secondhand smoke or go outdoors when the air quality is bad.

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Chest pain

Another symptom at my diagnosis was chest pain due to fluid on my right lung. After twice draining the fluid around my lung and two months into my TKI, my chest pain got better.

I am aware that lung tumors can press against my nerves and may cause chest pain. Overtime my chest pain comes when I breathe deeply, cough or laugh hard. Being aware of these causes let me catch myself.

Shoulder blade, upper back, or arm pain

My shoulder, back, or arm pain was worse before starting with my TKI. I could not even sleep comfortably nor lying position. I have had to use multiple pillows to find relief.

As soon as I had started my cancer treatment, the shoulder, back, or arm pain has been bearable. Thanks to my electric shiatsu neck and shoulder massager with heat, I can get comfort and massage pleasure.


At diagnosis, I had brain metastasis, so the intensity of my headache was stronger. My TKI for years has shrunk my brain tumor. Thus, my headache is not as intense as before.

Gentle breathing exercises has helped me deal with headache. Of course, rest works best. I have been following what my neurologist told me, to have enough water and have at least a cup of coffee a day to minimize headaches.

Weight change

My TKI has brought change in my weight compared at diagnosis. My oncologist does not seem concerned with the unexplained weight gain, so I shouldn't either.

He feels more worried with weight loss. Looking after my diet and its careful portion helps me maintain the weight gain. Just grateful I still have my good appetite and no abrupt weight loss.

Blood clots

My oncologist has warned me about my risk of having blood clots. He explained a need to be careful when travelling long hours.

Using or wearing compression socks to ensure better blood circulation on the legs really works when traveling on long hours by plane. For long road trips, I make sure I move my legs and wear socks to minimize leg cramps.

The list of lung cancer symptoms can go on and there may be unexpected or new ones may pop out anytime. So, facing them head on as much as I could is the only thing I could control.

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

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