A man reaching out to touch his reflection in the mirror

I Was 46 Years Old

When I was diagnosed with lung cancer, I was young - only 46 years old.

Thoughts and worries

The day I was diagnosed, I kept thinking about my oldest brother because he was only 47 when he passed. I was worried about my mom because she would have to bury another child. I was worried about my husband because he would raise our children without me. And, I was worried about my fabulous five because they would grow up without me - their mother.

So many thoughts ran through my head, and I worried about how this would impact my children. I know they were thinking, “Mom won’t be here to see me graduate, or see me get married, or meet my children, and so forth.” This felt so unfair because I was only 46 years old. I still had life in me and lots to see and do.

The grief of being diagnosed

I was sad but angry because I wasn’t ready to go. I was in top shape, fit and firm. I was in the best shape of my life, so how could this even be possible? I’d hope to open up my own CrossFit gym one day. But I realized you could be in the best shape or the worse, and it doesn’t matter because lung cancer doesn’t discriminate.

Questioning

For a long time, I just couldn’t understand how or why I got lung cancer. I ate healthy and worked out 4-5 days a week, and I took good care of myself, so how in the world did this happen - and why?

Did I do something wrong?

Was it secondhand smoke? Was it air pollution? Was it the carcinogens in the water I drank? Was it something in the food that I ate? I went crazy trying to figure out how and why.Plus, I was too darn young to get lung cancer; there was just no way. But I quickly realized it didn’t matter anymore, and I had to put on the armor to fight this disease and give it my all, and so I did.

I didn't do anything wrong, and I wasn't alone

I soon realized that there were a lot of people my age and in their 40s and 50s that were also diagnosed with lung cancer.

Then I realized it could happen to anyone, but it was more of a shock and heartbreaking to hear that young people in their 20s and 30s were also getting diagnosed with cancer. I just couldn’t believe it.

My kids have given me a perspective that fuels my advocacy

All my children are in their 20s now, and just the thought of them being diagnosed with some type of cancer so young breaks me. I could only imagine how they feel being diagnosed with lung cancer at such a young age. So even though I have a goal to make it to my 70s or even 80s, I have a bigger goal to continue to advocate for the younger ones to reach my age now and beyond.

It’s really heartbreaking and upsetting when I meet a young person who was diagnosed with lung cancer. It's more upsetting that we’re seeing more of it.

We have to unite, advocate and fight against this awful disease and not allow it to take any more of us. The more we educate ourselves, get more involved, and have our voices heard we can make a significant difference in lung cancer.

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