My Lung Cancer Journey

November is Lung Cancer Awareness month and also my one-year anniversary as a Lung Cancer Survivor.

Early symptoms and diagnosis

Last Fall at #SupplySide West I knew I was sick, but I did not yet know what it was. I would soon find out my diagnosis of inoperable, Stage 3B Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC). As a widow, I knew I had to stay strong for my children and fight like I’ve never fought before. Fortunately, amazing progress has been made in the treatment for many types of lung cancer and I started an aggressive plan of chemotherapy along with radiation.

Treatment and support

My treatment began the day before Thanksgiving 2019 and I went for daily radiation and biweekly chemotherapy infusions for 6 weeks, completing that portion of the program in mid January 2020. While this was an extremely difficult time, I’m forever grateful to my family and friends who got me through. There’s no shame in asking for help no mater how strong you are. A group of friends were with me every step of the way providing emotional support along with positivity, which absolutely made a difference in my life and the lives of my children, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

Complications and successes

While the aggressive treatment showed that my tumor had shrunk and necrotic, it did not come without complications (blood clot in my lung, pneumonia/pneumonitis) that landed me in the hospital a few times. These complications are serious but I was extremely fortunate and very appreciative for an excellent team of doctors and for this treatment.

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I started the immunotherapy stage of treatment in late January, a biweekly infusion for one year. I’m so very thankful that I have the opportunity for this type of immunotherapy. It's truly life-changing for my type of lung cancer and it has transformed a lung cancer diagnosis from a terminal disease into a chronic illness. I’m a walking, talking example.

2020 has not been easy for anyone. With Covid hitting the U.S. so hard in March, and me now being a high-risk person, my children and I locked down and started our quarantine journey. Like everyone, Covid has changed our lives. It has caused so many people so much pain, suffering, and disruption. Anyone that’s high risk for whatever reason (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc.) is living in fear of getting Covid. So please, be kind - #WearAMaskSaveALife. I understand for some this can be challenging but please, its basic human decency.

Grateful for medical advancements

In July, my first PET scan since the initial diagnosis was clear, no cancer detected. YIPPEE!!! THE TREATMENT plan is working! I’m so very grateful for the medical and technology advancements that have made this possible. I’m so extremely grateful for my children, whose lives have been totally disrupted and for my daughter who has been my lifeline.

Lung Cancer is the number 1 cancer killer in the U.S. Creating awareness will save lives. Early detection is critical and I’m extremely fortunate that mine was caught at stage 3B. I’ve never smoked and have led a healthy lifestyle and it still happened to me. There are signs and symptoms that can be found at the American Lung Association, so take a look and get screened #LungCancerScreening.

It is November 2020 and I’m cancer free, thank you, thank you, thank you!!

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