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Year 1: Beat and Live

I’m a non-smoker, a Mom of three, an Accountant, and married for 31 years. My Stage IV Adenocarcinoma lung cancer journey began in Dec 4, 2019. Hence, I am now officially a one year survivor. A year ago, shortness of breath and pleural effusion drove me to seek medical attention.

Targeted therapy and managing side effects

I underwent needle decompression for symptom relief and biopsy. Due to my ALK gene mutation and brain Mets, I am on targeted therapy oral medication.

The side effects are manageable through daily exercise, more fiber intake, and gentle yoga. I still require monthly blood tests, quarterly CT scans, and semi-annual brain MRI. At eight months on the treatment, my high blood sugar went up as one side effect. A diabetic medication has been added to control the spike. At one year mark, my brain Mets is totally unseen in MRI and the lung tumor has reduced its size. Thank God, I’m in the good hands of a healthcare team.

With increasing cases of Coronavirus, I have more phone appointments with my cancer specialists. In every hospital visit I am adapting to the new norm of social distancing, hand sanitizing, proper hand washing, and wearing a non-medical face mask.

Continuous virtual support

Covid-19 has not hindered my monthly Zoom meeting with local lung cancer support group. I am fortunate belonging to FB groups of ALK Positive and the Canadian Lung Cancer Advocacy-Breath Hope. There are phone Apps like Twitter, Podcast, and Zoom where I can get current and up to date lung cancer research and treatment.

This year, I got to participate in virtual webinars organized by ALK Positive, Lungevity, IASLC, Johns Hopkins, Patient Empowerment Network, and Lung Cancer Canada. These lung cancer events have made me realized more awareness and research fundraising need to be done. For my first fundraising, I chose to raise funds for the Lung Cancer Canada’s Geoffrey Ogram Memorial Research Fund during the November awareness month. The fund supports the advancement of lung cancer research program in Canada. I support Lung Cancer Canada’s push for early screening, equality on treatment policy, awareness, and research funding.

Communication and cooperation

As I move on living with my advanced-stage illness, my communication and cooperation to my healthcare team will remain a top priority. I will continue to lean on my prayer warriors and support system. With my caring and loving husband as my co-survivor, I will beat cancer. Above all, God is my strength, peace, and comfort amidst anxieties, uncertainty, fears, and the Pandemic.

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