Life 2.0 - Stage IV NSCLC ALK+ Brain Mets

Before the Pandemic, on a wintery day, and at my 55th year, I had shortness of breath at work. Proceeded directly to my general physician’s clinic. As soon as I said my symptoms, I had an X-ray done.

Fluid in right lung

Right at that moment my doctor said proceed to hospital emergency. The fluids in your right lung has to be removed ASAP. My husband Marolo ushered me to the emergency. It did not take me long to get a consultation. As soon as I had CT scan, ultrasound, and X-ray, the emergency doctors took some of the lung fluid to ease my shortness of breath. Right then I was referred to a Thoracic surgeon for lung biopsy. His first diagnosis was Stage 4 Lung Cancer. He asked for further mutation tests and MRI-brain.

Meeting with an oncologist

Early January 2020, I met with a radiology oncologist. He discussed my brain mets. It means my lung cancer has spread to my brain; in short, brain mets. Fortunately, it has been asymptomatic. But he had to discuss radiology treatment such as Gamma Knife.

More on this topic

He also mentioned that I am ALK positive and recommended me to a medical oncologist for other treatment options. A few days after baseline markers were set, targeted therapy using Alectinib was decided as my main cancer treatment. Quite a relief to hear that chemotherapy and radiation treatments were set back aside.

Targeted therapy so far

Amidst the Pandemic, I am approaching my eighth month of survival. I am on Alectinib for seven months now. I am really grateful my body has a good response. Every three months I have to go to a hospital for my CT scan and brain MRI. Once a month my bloodwork is monitored. This is to make sure my liver and kidneys are functioning well with my treatment.

Since lung cancer patients are susceptible to Covid-19, a lot of precautions and protocols have to be followed. More of hand washing, social distancing, wearing face mask, and staying home. My oncologists’ appointments were converted to phone instead of hospital visits for a few months. Now it’s back to clinic visits. The Cancer Care Manitoba pharmacy has opted for free home delivery instead of hospital pick up.

Grateful for my healthcare team

I am grateful for my health care team. Their dedication and compassion are commendable.

During these unprecedented times, the Cancer battle moves on. There is no lockdown for cancer. It is my prayer that my treatment will continue to prolong my life and ease my lung cancer symptoms. Moreover, the future will one day find a cure for lung cancer.

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