My Second Life
Lung Cancer. Those are the two words I was not expecting to hear. In 2014, I developed a fever. I felt great. I was working full time, enjoying life but kept waking up in the middle of the night with a fever between 102 and 103 degrees. No other symptoms. I waited and waited. I kept thinking I “was getting sick” but I never did.
Fast forward three weeks of fevers every night, I finally went to my internal medicine primary care physician. Let me just say, they looked at me like I was crazy. I looked healthy. I felt healthy. The nurse went through a long list of questions looking for symptoms and I kept saying NO. Mono test – negative. Complete Blood Count – normal. Physical exam – nothing abnormal. No cough. No headaches. Nothing.
Doc: “I'm not sure what is going on so let's do a chest x-ray to start.” Those were the words that began my journey. The x-ray department was one floor down from my doctors office. YAY! Let's get this over with – I have to get back to work.
Two hours later came the phone call...
“Your chest x-ray shows some abnormality that we'd like to explore further. I've scheduled a CAT Scan for Thursday then an appointment with me Friday morning to go over your results.” I should have panicked then, but given the fact that I had a fever for almost a month, I was almost grateful that they finally found something. Until......
Thursday morning I went for my CAT Scan, again, thinking nothing serious could be wrong. One hour later, another phone call, from my doctor, “can you come to my office right now?” (Remember, I already had an appointment to see him the next day).
That day, as I look back, was the last day of my FIRST life. I entered his office and he told me I had lung cancer. My world stopped. Everything stopped. I was dizzy. I started crying. I looked at my sister who was with me in disbelief. Did he really just say what I think he said? He wanted to admit me to the hospital for in depth further testing but I was in such shock I made him wait a few days.
I had to process this myself. I had to let my family know. I had to bring myself back to reality before I could absorb what I was being told. This is the day I refer to as my SECOND life.
Embracing and fight for my "second life"
Blood tests, more x-rays, more CAT scans, PET scans, MRI's...and the list goes on.
During all these tests was when I realized I wasn't going down without a fight. This was my second chance at life and love and I wasn't going to let this stop me. Yes, I was told I had stage III lung cancer, but I was also told I had a chance to beat it with surgery and chemo.
So here I am, 3 years and 7 months later, minus my left lung and actively in immunotherapy treatment. I'm still here. I'm still fighting. I'm still kicking. I live each day as if it were my last. I leave nothing unsaid.
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?