Hello. I am Ronda J. (Johnson) Beaty. I am a new contributor to LungCancer.net.
I was diagnosed on January 11, 2017 with NSCLC, adenocarcinoma, KRAS mutation. I have been on the roller coaster for nearly three years. I have only been a member of LungCancer.net for a little over a month. It took me almost three full years to find this support network.
Asking for help changed my life
I was at a doctor's appointment and picked up the magazine Conquer. I was browsing through and read about the Go2 Foundation. I reached out to this organization via email and immediately received a response. It changed my life.
No one deserves lung cancer
Before you ask? Yes, I smoked. This question is an unfortunate stigma surrounding lung cancer. It is my opinion, no one deserves lung cancer. Is it preventable by not smoking? Maybe. Would I have gotten lung cancer if I didn’t smoke? Maybe. Do I, or anyone, deserve lung cancer (or any type of cancer)? No. I will talk more about this in future posts.
My hope: to build awareness
Awareness - defined via Google as a noun – knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.
For me, the situation is I have lung cancer. Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.1 I hope to build awareness that you do not have to be a smoker to have lung cancer. I hope to build awareness that lung cancer is no longer the death sentence it used to be. I will talk about these topics in the future, as well.
Discovering the lung cancer community
For three years I have felt alone in my diagnosis. I don’t know anyone living that has lung cancer. I have no known family history of lung cancer; however, I have loved ones that have lost family members to lung cancer. I have believed, for the last three years, tomorrow could be my last day.
In two days, after contacting the Go2 Foundation, I was sitting, online via YouTube, in a support group called “The Lung Cancer Living Room”. For the past three years, I had been looking over my shoulder for the angel of death. Sitting online, in the living room, I immediately had newfound hope. I learned there are fellow stage IV lung cancer survivors that were diagnosed well over five years ago! How did I not know this?
Prior to finding these resources, I had all but given up. I had planned my cremation. I had purchased my cemetery plot. I had purchased my headstone -- it has been placed. I have gotten all my financial affairs in order. This is a humbling experience everyone should do whether with or without a cancer diagnosis. While completing these tasks, I was sad. I was sad and scared. I’m 54 years old. I’m too young to die.
Newfound hope is liberating
Guess what? Newfound hope is liberating! Now, instead of focusing on dying, I am focused on living! I now have a newfound will to live! A new LONG TERM will to live. I’ve started planning my future by participating in life instead of planning for future death. I have good days and bad days. There is no warning of a bad day, it just smacks me in the face when I wake up.
Together, I hope we spread awareness broadly that these resources are available. If it took me three years to find it, I’m certain there are others that need us. Provide this information to friends, ask your friends to provide it to their friends. Let them know they are not alone, there are many of us to share and learn with.
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on May 7, 2021, Ronda Beaty passed away. Ronda’s advocacy efforts and writings continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?