Five Things I Learned about Lung Cancer
I've been trying to think of different topics that might be of interest to others who have some connection to lung cancer. I started thinking about some of the things I didn't know when I was first diagnosed. There are just so many misconceptions that surround cancer, especially lung cancer. Here are a few of the things I learned soon after I was diagnosed:
1. Nonsmokers get lung cancer too
I guess I really never thought much about it one way or the other, but if someone had told me I would know more people with lung cancer who have never smoked than who do or did, I would have thought they were crazy. Like the majority of the public, when I thought of lung cancer, I thought of old people with a lifelong addiction to nicotine. I definitely didn't think that 30-something athletes who had never been around cigarettes would be diagnosed with lung cancer.
2. A lung cancer diagnosis doesn't mean you have to stop living
A lung cancer diagnosis does not mean that you can't still have fun! When I was first diagnosed with Stage IV NSCLC, my oncologist asked me if I had any questions. Well, yes. One. "Can I still play agility with my dogs?"
The doctor was dumbfounded by the question but gave his approval. Continuing to live my life as normally as I could in spite of my diagnosis was very important to me. My dogs and I may not have won any awards for stellar performances during those first few months I was in treatment, but we were out on the agility field and we were having fun!
3. Friends seem to think cancer is contagious
I think one of the hardest things I have dealt with since being diagnosed has been having people that I considered good friends fall by the wayside. I mean, most of them still give me lip service if I post something on Facebook and a few even still text me a few times a year. But, most don't remember to invite me to join them for dinner or take the time to call.
I don't think it is because they don't care. I think they are just so consumed with their own lives that they don't even think about me. Nevertheless, feeling hurt and left out has been difficult. And, I know that I am not alone. I have heard this same complaint from far too many of my friends with cancer.
4. New friends appear
I have made so many friends within the lung cancer community that I would have never met if not for having cancer. I love these people so much. More than one person has considered me crazy when I say I am not completely sorry I have cancer. Were it not for this disease, I would have never met some of the finest people on earth. How can I wish that away?
5. Blessings are everywhere
Before diagnosis, life was a rat race. I rushed from one place to the next to the next. I didn't stop and really enjoy the sunset or take the time to just sit and enjoy a moment of solitude. Cancer slowed me down and gave me the time to appreciate all that is beautiful in my life. The sky, the raindrops, a beautiful bird, a sweet-smelling flower -- they all give me great joy now that I take the time to actually notice them.
Maybe your list is similar to mine or you may have learned five completely different things! I would love to hear what you have learned (good and bad) since being diagnosed.
What's one thing you've learned since diagnosis?
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Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?