Co-Existing Emotions With Survivorship
Human beings express different emotions. Valid emotions coexist with us and become part of our lives.
However, emotions are felt stronger while living with lung cancer and to those especially undergoing cancer treatment. In my own lung cancer journey or my survivorship for almost four years now, I know that bouncing back and forth with great appreciation and acknowledgment of these emotions has been my common response. Putting my mental state in the right place all the time must be included in my goals.
Journey beyond the misconceptions of lung cancer
I feel sad that our world painted lung cancer as a self-inflicted illness. There are more ads on smoking as the leading cause but little awareness of other factors like radon or asbestos exposure.
The day I knew my healthy life was over was one of my life's unhappiest times. It made me realize that the changes in my body or my energy levels would dictate my daily activities.
I chose to move on with my day-to-day life. I did this despite the constant company of stigma, the great surprises of cancer treatment, and struggles with side effects.
Embracing survivorship advocacy
Statistics show that the 5-year relative survival rate for all lung cancer is less than 25%. The life expectancy for some ranges from seven months to slightly more than a year.1
Survivorship includes grieving for people we know who lived and later succumbed to lung cancer. Some survivors were also great advocates.
They lived their lives making differences and demanding actions for the good of lung cancer patients and survivors. I feel so much sorrow when treatment stops working for people.
Hope in targeted therapy
Targeted therapy is the first line of treatment when a lung cancer diagnosis begins with certain abnormalities in a patient’s tumor. Not every person is eligible for this treatment.
Once the characteristics of abnormalities are determined by biomarker testing, the type has a corresponding targeted therapy or inhibitor drug to be chosen. I feel happy that I have been taking the same TKI, the inhibitor for my ALK Positive gene rearrangement, for almost four years. Of course, there are side effects, but I'm happy they are manageable.
More and more now, there are new and life-saving treatments and clinical trials for lung cancer in our midst. Moreover, more research opens the right doors to help patients or change their lives.
Research is how small steps or giant steps go against cancer. In addition, the emergence of advanced surgical and radiation therapies and immunotherapy has brought newer and better treatments for lung cancer.
Because of my targeted therapy, my oncologist is managing my lung cancer like a chronic disease. At the same time, scans and bloodwork remain part of monitoring my overall response to my cancer treatment.
The treatment my cancer care team chose for me has brought a lot of benefits. It allows me to live longer and better. The hope of survivorship is real for me.
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