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Recently Diagnosed?

Are you reeling from the recent news that you possibly have lung cancer? Are you in the midst of telling your family and friends and find that #1 they all have questions, and #2 everyone’s brother/sister/cousin/best friend’s cousin’s wife’s brother had it and then they proceed to tell you how their experience went? I’m sure you are. So what do I have to say about that – STOP!

Everyone’s experience is their own

Once you have been officially diagnosed you will find that you will meet many patients with the same cancer as you and everyone has a different experience. No one reacts the same to anything. Now, does that mean don’t talk to anyone? Absolutely not. Do you know someone who has lung cancer (someone close to you)? That is the perfect person to talk to.

Some things are the same for every cancer patient. The source must be found, staging must begin and then a treatment plan can be established. What this means is that you will have x-rays, CT scans, PET scans and tons of blood work. Those of us who are unfortunately veterans can help you at this point. We know exactly what is running through your head and how unbearable you must feel it is. You will find the strength to deal with whatever the future holds – it may simply take time.

Quieting the negative thoughts

Let’s just put it out there – right now I bet all you can think about is “when am I going to die” and “how will my family function without me.” As hard as this sounds, and I’ve been there, you just have to stop thinking that way. I don’t know you but I KNOW you will find the strength within you that you never knew you had to deal with what is to come. When I was diagnosed 4-1/2 years ago, I had a tumor in 4 of my 5 lobes and in my lymph nodes. No one thought I’d be here today – BUT I AM!!

That is a testament to my medical team and to the strength I found within to keep going. Don’t let anyone fool you and tell you it is a battle – it is not. It is a constant drive to keep going. Nothing infuriates more than when I hear someone say they lost their battle when speaking about a cancer patient. We have done no such thing. We have simply persisted in getting up each day, going about our day and keeping our mental capacity in a positive mood. WE HAVE WON THE BATTLE because we found it in the first place.

My advice to those recently diagnosed

My advice to you. Read “Dr. Google” with caution – a lot of that information is not proven. Many people say stay off the internet but I’m not naive and know you have already searched and searched. Just be cautious.

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.


  • Jennifer M. Toth moderator author
    9 months ago

    Bfowler, That is an amazing journey so far. I have been on Opdivo for 2 years as I have no mutations. I wish you well and hope all works out on the career front. That can be the most scary feeling. Best wishes to you and your family, Jennifer

  • Bfowler
    9 months ago

    Thank you Jennifer! for sharing your story and raising my spirits with realistic hope. Would you be able to share what targeted Therapy you are currently on and for how long.
    After more than 20 years of successful Pharmaceutical career in manufacturing quality and regulatory and being the sole breadwinner of my family with 2 minor children and one in college, I lost my job due to re-organization in Nov.2018. Soon, I had 2 solid offers and one in works by Dec. 03. I accepted one on Dec.04 at a very senior level with a major pharma company in another state with a starting date in first week of January 2019.
    I always struggled with depression and high anxiety due to high job demands and a lot of travel. At times I would have short breath that my doctor and I would attribute to anxiety and that is I what I thought was the reason when I started feeling shortness of breath as I furiously continued with my job hunting in Nov.2018
    My symptoms escalated days after accepting my Job offer and ended up in the emergency room. X-ray, CT scan and fluid test (from thoracentesis) confirmed I had malignant pleural effusion involving my left lung. Later on Dec.21, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer with EGFR +ive mutation.
    I started the targeted therapy with “Tagrisso” 6 days ago and already feel better with my symptoms except for my cough, although less frequent but remains.
    My enormous dread has been replaced with much hope, thanks to the targeted therapy and great medical team at MD Anderson Cancer Center of Summit Medical NJ. However I am struggling with added fear of being without job and health insurance for the first time in my life and more so my family especially my children will be without means and no insurance is just as dreadful as my cancer. I have no answers and no confirmed avenues on how I and my family will survive as I keep pushing with the will to live a healthy, happy and long life with a new normal. I take great solace from stories of survivors on this site and would love to connect with some of you if not all.

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