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?

Read more about...

Common misconceptions about lung cancer
How cancer has changed our advocates' lives

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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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