Jump to content

My Journey


Recommended Posts

When I was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in January 2003 at the age of 33, I thought my entire world was ending. What had started out as a normal day ended anything but normal. My grandmom had just passed away, I was a single mom and my then 6-year old son was away on vacation with his father, and I was feeling stressed. While doing my daily treadmill workout, I developed some mild heart palpitations. I stopped exercising, but the palpitations didn't stop. By that evening, my boyfriend of one year determined that a trip to the emergency room was in order. We entered the hospital afraid there was a problem with my heart, but instead we walked out the door in the middle of the night knowing that there was a problem in my lung. A "spot" on an x-ray to be exact. An unknown spot. A CT Scan the following morning led to more questions and more waiting. One week and a CT Guided Needle Biopsy later, I had my answer. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (Adenocarcenoma), most likely Stage I. How could this be? I had been a life long non-smoker - lung cancer was not in my vocabulary! Surgery was suggested and I set out to find the best surgeon in town. Once I found him, I clung to his every word. Surgery gave me the best chance for a total cure….I was young...I was in overall good health……and I had caught it early. He said he would remove the cancer and I would return to my normal life.

The day before surgery, the Northeast was hit with a massive blizzard. Calling the hospital on the verge of hysterics, a kind staff member assured me that if I could make it, surgery would take place. At 4:00 a.m. the next morning, we shoveled our way out the front door to the car and traveled on snow-covered roads to make it to the hospital at my check-in time of 5:45 a.m. The last thing I recall before being put under is hearing the surgeon's voice as he walked in the room. In complete relief, I succumbed to the anesthesia.

Surgery was difficult, but not as difficult as I imagined. I was up walking around the halls the day after surgery, and sent home on the 4th day. I was fortunate to have the help and support of family and friends during the days when the simple act of sitting up felt like a full time job! Meals were taken care of, my son was taken to school and my every need was attended to. I returned to the surgeon for my three week follow up, in good spirits, however, I was blindsided when I heard the following: "Your pathology report shows 5 mediastinal lymph nodes postive for cancer, which puts you at Stage IIIA. There is no proof that Chemotherapy at this point will increase your odds for survival. However, Stage I or Stage III, it doesn't matter, because I got it all." Those words echoed in my head. Did he get it all? Was follow up chemo useless, as he said? Was I doomed? A further review of my records before a panel of oncologist brought the recommendation of daily radiation, along with weekly chemotherapy together, for a period of 6 weeks. They felt that this was my best shot at a cure.

The weekend before beginning my chemo/radiation regiment, my boyfriend proposed to me over a game of Scrabble, by spelling out "Marry Me" on the board. His timing could not have been more perfect and I floated through the first few days of radiation on Cloud 9. However, as I was hooked up to my first chemo IV later that week, the realization of what I was up against finally hit me. From that day forward, I couldn't look at my son without crying. I would sit on his bed at night, watching him sleep, as the tears flowed down my face. As I navigated my way through the unfamiliar territory of chemotherapy and radiation, each day began to feel worse than the next. The radiation treatment burned my esophagus and made it difficult to eat. The chemotherapy dehydrated me and I spent many afternoons hooked up to an IV receiving fluids. The nausea became constant and I had to admit that I could no longer work. Each day that passed brought me closer to feeling that the end was imminent.

Fortunately, one night, while sitting on the edge of my son's bed, watching him sleep, instead of crying and sadness, a fierce feeling of determination came over me. I HAD to make it through this treatment and beat this monster into submission. This little boy needed me and I needed him! That was the turning point in my treatment and I muddled through the remaining weeks -- weak, dehydrated, nauseous and dizzy….but determined!

Amazingly, treatment did finally end and I was thrilled to find that despite my original fears, my life did not! As the days passed, I began to have more good moments than bad and I slowly began to feel "human" again. Month by month the lingering side effects began to lessen and I had the realization that there were a few moments that I actually didn't think about cancer! My fiancé and I celebrated the one year anniversary of diagnoses by having a dream wedding onboard a cruise ship, surrounded by close family and friends.

The months rolled by and I realized that while I was fortunate to have achieved remission, there are many thousands who do not. All of my research brought me to the conclusion that much more needs to be done to increase awareness and funding if we are ever going to bring change. My husband and I decided to tackle a benefit walk and the idea for "The First South Jersey Lung Cancer Walk/Run & Rally" was born. Our walk took place on November 6, 2004 on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning, and raised $32,000 for lung cancer research. Planning this event was time consuming and often stressful, but worth every minute and I am so proud to have been a part of it!

As I approach my second anniversary of diagnoses, I do so with cautious optimism, putting one foot in front of the other; taking care of my body to the best of my ability with nutrition and exercise; nurturing my spiritual side; and taking the time each day to laugh.

It was a bumpy ride, but one I would gladly repeat again to have the same end result. I do not know where God plans to take me on this journey, but I wouldn't trade a moment of it. It has truly changed my life for the better and brought me a greater feeling of appreciation for all that I am blessed with.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.