Keeping the Faith
4 years and 8 months ago I had a fever every night for more than a month. I felt absolutely fine with the exception of the fever. My stubborn self decided to go to my Primary Care Physician to see what was going on.
Beginning my new journey
This was Day 1 of my lung cancer journey. Little did I know that within 4 weeks after that I would receive the conclusive diagnosis of lung cancer with a tumor in 4 out of my 5 lobes and probably had a very limited time on this earth.
4 years and 3 months ago, I had both lobes of my left lung removed and began chemotherapy eight weeks later. It was the beginning of my newest journey. Since then I have had 3 different types of chemotherapy, radiation to my chest, and now currently immunotherapy.
My life was changed forever. Initially, I was depressed, upset, grieving and all I could think about was, "I am going to die." We all know there are only 3 things in life that are guaranteed - birth, death, and taxes :)
Realizations following diagnosis
I quickly realized that I wasn't scared for my own life but for the life of my children and grandchildren to prepare for life without me. This was so hard for me to believe. Did I think I would live forever? No, but I never thought something would cause me to die sooner. This is one of the hardest things to come to grip with.
I quickly realized I can't live my remaining life this way. I was lucky in so many ways. I thank my surgeon for removing the two largest tumors. I thank my oncologist every day upon waking up knowing without my treatments and extremely qualified medical team, I wouldn't be here now.
Finding my purpose
That has totally changed my view on my lung cancer. It now is my "friend" that I don't really want but I know it is there. I try to live each day to the fullest. I talk to my family every day. And, I advocate for more lung cancer awareness and research. My mother's family had all the siblings (8 of them) die of some form of cancer. I now believe I was put on this earth to make people more aware that ANYONE can get lung cancer. Actually, anyone can get any form of cancer. No one is immune. This is my most important message of all.
The ability to write about my experience, speak to newly diagnosed patients, and use my platform to open society's eyes to the fact that cancer is not always a death sentence is my mission.
Why I continue to smile
Don't let me confuse you. I know in my heart this beast will eventually win in our battle. But as long as I can fight, educate and advocate, my faith that I will continue to survive is what wakes me up and makes me smile. Cancer you may win in the end, but for now, I keep the faith every day that my treatments will slow you down and even kill you someday. Just remember, there is joy in everything. Cancer may not be defined by joy, but the relationships I have found, made deeper and taking one day at a time, make it all worth the journey.
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.
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?