At the young age of 36, I was in the middle of getting adjusted to my new life. I had just gotten remarried in June 2015 to the love of my life and we were combining families. I had gained 2 stepsons and my husband gained a step-daughter. Life couldn’t have been more perfect or happy. Little did I know that 8 months later, my entire life would have to change AGAIN and this time it was not a positive way!
Towards the end of November 2015, I had began to cough, nothing major just a small annoying cough. I figured it was that time of the year and that it would go away eventually, hopefully without a full blow cold. December came around, the cough was still there, however it was holiday time and I didn’t pay much attention to it. For New Years Eve, my husband and I had a trip booked to Las Vegas, Nevada (where we were married) it was about a week before the trip that I felt some pain in my chest and shoulder. I was getting worried but nothing was going to stop our trip. We went to Las Vegas and at dinner one night I all of the sudden felt my chest get very heavy, it was very concerning and my anxiety hit the roof. I tried to enjoy the rest of the trip but was anxious to get home and go to the Doctor. I didn’t want to go in Vegas because if it was something serious, I didn’t want to get stuck there and not be able to get home to my daughter.
Once home, I went to Urgent Care, the Doctor listened to my symptoms and chest and diagnosed me with Bronchitis, he gave me an inhaler and steroids and antibiotics and told me to follow up with my PCP in 2 weeks. After those 2 weeks, nothing was getting better, I then went to my normal Urgent Care and they did an Xray and diagnosed me with Pneumonia, put me on more meds and told me to follow up in a few weeks. In a few weeks I followed up with my PCP, she released me back to work and kind of just brushed it off that I still wasn’t feeling better. She stated it will take a while to get rid of all of the symptoms. Well, here it was, beginning of February 2016 and I felt like crap. I was on my way to a bridal shower and I just knew something wasn’t right so instead we drove to Urgent Care, they conducted another Xray which showed my “Pneumonia” wasn’t clearing, in fact it was getting worse. The Doctor conducted a D-Dimer test was showed positive and she was concerned I had a blood clot so she sent me to the ER. At the ER, they conducted a CT Scan.
This was the moment forever etched in my mind, I am laying in the bed in the ER and the ER Doctor comes in and says well I have good news and bad news. The good news is you don’t have a blood clot, the bad news is, you have lung cancer. I went numb, my husband was silent and it all got foggy. He set me up with an oncologist for the next week and prescribed me anxiety meds and sent me home. After weeks of tests and unknowns, I was finally diagnosed and staged with Stage IV Non Small Cell Lung Cancer with mets to spine, pelvis and brain on February 26, 2016. Genetic mutation was done and I tested positive for the EGFR mutation and started Tarceva March 16, 2016. Tarceva got me into remission in about 5 months and my brain mets have disappeared and my bone mets are healing.
Lung Cancer has affected everyone close to me, it was an extremely hard first year, between depression, dealing with children and this diagnosis, handling a new marriage, trying to get adjusted to our new normal, it was a very trying year but we made it through! What I have learned from this diagnosis is that there is always a silver lining in everything. It may not seem that way, but in the end, I always find it! Even most recently, when I was found to have some progression, I found my silver lining. This was that my next targeted therapy has less side effects and I will be able to travel more which is something that I have a love for.
Cancer changes things, it changes your mindset, how you live and how you feel. How you respond to all of what cancer brings is the most important part. Taking care of your body, mind and soul, embracing moments with those that you love and enjoying every last moment, no matter what it is, is so important! Live Life Now is my motto and I live by it everyday!