What is it Really Like to Live With Cancer?

I have been living with lung cancer for nine years now. I never in my life imagined that I would be diagnosed with lung cancer. When I was diagnosed, I knew very little about the topic. Cancer was not a word that I would say often. We fundraised and participated in the Susan G. Komen walks, but that was about it. I have learned SO very much along the way, and here are a few things about what it's like living with lung cancer.

I'm living with lung cancer

It's very hard in the beginning. There is a lot of back and forth between the hospital and doctors’ appointments. I suggest signing up for a phone buddy with one of the lung cancer organizations (Lungevity, Go2, or Imerman Angels, etc.) They will find you a mentor, and you can chat with them as much or as little as you would like. I participate in these programs as a mentor.

Getting into a routine after my diagnosis

Once you get into a pattern of appointments and (hopefully) find a lung cancer treatment that works for you, there is the cancer administrative stuff. This includes making a bunch of phone calls for insurance purposes, setting up appointments, and updating family and friends. This can also include research, but I would let someone else Google if you can!

Life as normal, with lung cancer

I have decided to continue working because, well, I need a paycheck! I enjoy being able to do the basics, such as eating and having a roof over my head. I hope to one day retire, but that is not in the plans for a long time. If you must work, I suggest finding a low-stress job. If you can retire, do that! My overall health is sustainable for this lifestyle. I have just enough energy in the day to work and still be able to do things after work. Side effects from the drugs I take come and go in waves, and I handle them as they come.

The value of spending time with my family

As a family, we get together much more, even just for a quick meal. The holidays also mean so much more to me now that I'm living with lung cancer. We also have the traditions that we practice too.

Looking forward to the future

After my diagnosis, my sister and I decided always to have a trip planned that we could look forward to. Part of the fun is just planning the trip. I do about 90% of the planning, and my sister just comes along for the ride. We currently have two trips planned! For us cancer survivors, having something to look forward to is important. It may look a little different in the early stages, such as planning a lunch date with a friend.

After nine years of living with lung cancer, my life looks a lot different than it did pre-diagnosis. I would say that I am on the right track, and cancer has finally gotten to a point where I can live my life. Living life in 3-month increments!

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