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A doctor's face with a speech bubble containing a broken heart

Haunting Words Since Diagnosis

I was told about my stage 4 lung cancer in December 2019. There have been many words I've heard and read describing my stage 4 diagnosis.

Most of the time, these words have hit me hard and remind me of life’s brevity. Every time these words pop up, I sink them in because they are true. It is my present reality.

"Lung tumor"

After a trip to the ER for shortness of breath and water in the lungs, the doctors told my husband and me that they found a right lung tumor through a CT scan and a pleural effusion. One of the procedures they did to ease my shortness of breath was to remove the fluid collection in my pleural space called thoracentesis.

I was scared to the bones. My husband told me that I cried like a baby during the procedure.

"Advanced stage"

The next thing, I was in the hands of a thoracic surgeon. He broke the news I got an advanced stage of lung cancer. He did another thoracentesis to drain the excess fluid in the space between my lungs and chest wall.

You may think that having it for the second time was a breather, but I felt so much pain. I stayed in the hospital for the whole day just to make sure most of the fluid was drained through a chest x-ray. In addition, the fluid was sent for further IHC and FISH tests.

They found out my biomarkers were ALK+ and 50% PDL-1.


My cancer specialist’s role entails putting this reality in my face. But as they further say, it is incurable. But, with good treatment and proper care, I can survive well and prolong my life.

With enormous improvements in treatment care, lung cancer patients are living longer and enjoying a better quality of life. I can accept the fact that my condition is incurable but treatable.

"Terminal illness"

The word terminal struck me big time. With this realization, my future is uncertain, living with an advanced-stage disease. As harsh as it may sound, I have faced this truth every day since my stage 4 diagnosis. It was even a poor prognosis when it metastasized, like me, in my brain.

The thought that I can be gone at any time makes me change my perspective on life. I move on to do things I can control and be stress-free. Being grateful to live each breath I have.

"Overall survival rate"

Do you believe I got to ask my Oncologist about the overall survival rate of my condition? At the start of my treatment, he told me about the overall survival rate of my TKI. Just imagine, he told me that not many patients live more than five years.

I understand that statistics play an important role in putting numbers for my condition. I hope that I live beyond the statistics that are out there.

"Progression-free survival"

My TKI is my first treatment for my advanced-stage condition. From the start of treatment, I knew that progression might occur. With my side effects being manageable and acceptable, I hope my survival can go beyond five years.

There have been a lot of big, haunting words thrown at me since my stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis. But I accept them as part of living with my illness. I'm glad I fully know their meaning and relevance to my condition.

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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.

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