Six Years of Surviving and Thriving
Last updated: November 2023
Please join me in celebrating six years of a stable journey of stage 4, inoperable non-small cell lung cancer. When I was first diagnosed in October of 2017, the survival beyond five years was in the teens. I made it to five years, and now six.
Modern medicine has sustained me
I have maintained my first line of treatment which has been an oral chemotherapy tablet called Tagrisso. When I was first diagnosed, this drug had just been approved by the FDA for first-line therapy.
I have the EGFR mutation in addition to the T790m. The median average of patients on the drug at the time before progression was 18 months.
At the 18-month mark, I wondered if this was when I would face the shift of change. We kept going and are now at 72 months. I am so very grateful for modern medicine and cutting-edge research.
I started celebrating these milestones like I would a birthday. I feel like we now get two dates to celebrate life.
I often make it special in some way and have a mini photoshoot with balloons or do something special on that day to celebrate life and living intentionally. I get that many of us wish we could forget that day, but I am not sure that it is possible, so we might as well celebrate the adversities that none of us volunteered for or clicked the subscribe button.
Over the years, I have learned how to keep living life with a chronic illness. Most importantly, I have learned to listen to my body and rest when I need it.
I have learned that it is just perfectly fine to say no to things whether it is going to a family event being invited to lunch or doing the dishes. It can wait until after my nap, right? Most people understand when you say you are not feeling well.
I don’t know why I couldn’t say no before cancer and felt obligated to do everything. I have learned the importance of sharing hope on this journey with others.
Most importantly, I have learned how to embrace this life, I live intentionally and find my gratitude every single day.
Scan days are still hard
I must say that while I have learned to live and thrive with lung cancer, I still fall short of confidence when my quarterly scan time comes around. I fully understand that the shift of my diagnosis and treatment could change at any time and unapologetically.
In fact, I am hours away from my next scans at the time of writing this article. I think we all fear scan day.
There are a million other things that we would likely rather do than go spend the day at the hospital in waiting rooms being forced to not eat or drink. I try to be grateful that I still get to. The anxiety of scan day doesn’t seem to ease up over time and likely never will.
Finding hope in the journey
No matter how many weeks, months, or years you have been on the journey, we can always strive to find our hope. I share my story not to brag, but to reveal hope.
When I was first diagnosed, I gained so much hope from others sharing their story. I know it might sound odd to celebrate the day that you were diagnosed with cancer, but it’s important to celebrate living life more abundantly because of the perspective shift that we have been able to experience.
We get to think about things from a different approach than the rest of the world. This journey isn’t easy at all, but somehow, we keep going and we look for another milestone on the calendar.
Let's celebrate our milestones!
What healthy habits do you use to improve the quality of your life?