I was 52, a wife, mom and teacher when diagnosed with stage 3a NSC Adenocarcinoma lung cancer in September 2012. I had no symptoms and did not fit the criteria of a lung cancer candidate.
An observant radiologist had noticed a small shadow in my lower right lobe when viewing an unrelated abdominal scan in 2010. Because I didn’t fit any of the LC criteria, no specialist or surgeon thought that it would be lung cancer. They adopted a “wait and see” plan using two six-month scans and then moved to a one-year scan at which that point indicated that my “nothing” spot had in fact grown and was probably lung cancer.
My world had been turned upside down. I quickly had surgery to remove my bottom right lobe and several lymph nodes. Unfortunately, cancer was found in the lymph nodes and the tumor. This led to four rounds of chemotherapy (Cisplatin and Navelbine) and 25 treatments of radiation along with all the mental and physical issues that many people can only imagine.
Cancer can be a very lonely disease even when you have a ton of support. I couldn’t find survivors in my area so I began searching out on-line groups that I could communicate with about my disease. This is where I discovered LUNGevity! The members of this group and all those associated with the organization wrapped their cyber arms around me and welcomed me into their world. This was literally a life-saving experience for me and continues to be part of my daily communication.
Two years ago, people in the group began speaking about the National HOPE Summit in Washington, D.C. and how beneficial it was for both patients and caregivers. Because I am Canadian, I inquired as to whether my husband and I could attend. I was told of course we could!
My husband and I attended HOPE Summit and that experience has changed my life. Meeting other survivors and hearing from physicians and researchers empowered me to return to my own country and begin asking questions about lung cancer research and most importantly, begin my work as a lung cancer advocate.
The Summit allowed me to meet so many people who are advocates not only for their own health but also for lung cancer research and advocacy work. These people meet with politicians, organize, and participate in lung cancer fundraisers and teach so many of us about treatment options.
Although Canada does not have as large a network, there is a small group of us who have been empowered to meet with politicians, educate and support others with the disease and spread the word about early lung cancer diagnosis, all because of our experience at a LUNGevity HOPE Summit.
Education is power but knowing you are part of a strong, supportive, and knowledgeable group of individuals is invaluable. Thank you LUNGevity!