two people talking with their speech bubbles forming lungs


Lung cancer. Grief. Anger. Tears. Survivorship. Physicians. Scans. Treatments. Surgery. Radiation. Nausea. Fatigue. Planning. Guilt. Friendships. Support. Advocacy. Biomarker testing. Biopsy. Blood tests. Chemotherapy. Targeted therapy. Immunotherapy. Progression. Stable. Staging. Side effects.

Words can carry a deeper meaning

So many words that 6 years ago meant nothing to me. For you, it may have just been yesterday that some of these words were thrown at you. It is amazing how quickly our vocabulary changes after a cancer diagnosis. In a way, it puts us apart from our friends and family that don't have cancer. We don't mean to -- but it happens.

Teaching my loved ones about lung cancer

We form bonds and friendships with other lung cancer patients and it is so much easier to have a conversation with them. When I come home from the doctor and have to tell my children what was said it also has to include a lesson on terminology and then they look at me cross-eyed because I know they have no idea what I am talking about. I have to tell them so they know exactly what is going on but let's admit it, it is hard to not only repeat what is said but also to have to educate someone on what the words mean coming out of your mouth.

You will find a way to deal with this. As I mentioned, I am six years into my journey. I have seven children and all 7 are totally different when it comes to my cancer. Some want every single detail and question ever decision my medical team makes. Others just want the details. For example, "It spread." My child, "where?" That is all they want to know. And I know this. I have come to know what all my family and friends want and are able to absorb. Some it is much more than others.

Knowing who you can and can't open up to

It can be quite exhausting speaking to people who don't want details but only say, "Oh I'm sorry." We need people to talk to. We need to express our fears, conquests, questions, and daily thoughts. Knowing who you can and cannot express these words to is the biggest lesson I've learned since getting lung cancer. Just because I know which of my children I cannot give details to doesn't help my fears. It actually makes me more anxious. I know there will come a day when I will run out of time and I am terrified it will come as a shock to some simply because they didn't want the details.

Don't hesitate to express yourself

We must accept this is not our fault nor our responsibility. We need to do what we need to do. Find your words and express them to whoever will listen. Don't be afraid. You'll know right at the beginning who these people are.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 28, 2020, Jennifer Toth passed away. Jennifer was a passionate advocate for the Lung Cancer community. She will be deeply missed.

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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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