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Here it is...........

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I have been on this site for a while now and I guess it's time to share my story.

In July of 2004 I had a rotten cold that I just could not shake. I remember dragging myself to work, everything was an effort including breathing. After 2 different antibiotics had not healed me, my local doctor ordered a chest x-ray thinking I had pneumonia. I came home from work the following day and there was a message from the doctor's office urging me to make an appointment. I think I knew there was something going on then, never had a doctor called me at home. He was convinced that inflammation had shown up on the x-ray, but ordered a CT scan. Even when that showed a shadow in the right lung, inflammation was still supposedly the cause. I was told to have another scan in 2 weeks, which I did and the same thing showed up, so I had a needle biopsy. By this stage I was terrified. I think I knew it was cancer, but never wanted to believe it was.

The biopsy itself was a nightmare, 3 attempts and hitting a rib before they got a reasonable size piece to test. A week later I went to the hospital with my partner and the attitude of the doctor when he called me in told me the worst. He made sure my partner came in with me and sat us down and just said straight out I had adenocarcinoma in the right upper lobe. They were almost positive no spread had occured and it looked promising for a cure. He described how they would operate and told me he would refer me to a thoracic surgeon and I would need a PET scan. He then left the room so we could be alone to fathom everything. We just broke down and held each other, devastated. I was 38 years old and just never thought it was going to happen to me at that age.

I had the PET scan and met with the thoracic surgeon and his assistant. They were rude and arrogant. Just said that operating was not an option, there were 3 nodes on the chest wall, one on the opposite side, which made it impossible for a cure. They took my one hope away at a long life and didn't care how they delivered the news. I had 2 kids, 10 and 12, I now had to tell them this news. We had been through the Family court system for 5 years, it had all finished in April of that year and now this. It just didn't seem fair to any of us.

Thankfully the bone scan came up clear and I had to meet with a radiologist, who then stated there was nothing he could offer me either. From going to a cure one week, it now looked as though I was going to die, to me it just seemed a matter of when. I met with an oncologist, one I still see today. He was caring and said he would do whatever he could. He did state that any care would now be classed as palliative, just that word made me panicked. So, chemotherapy was the go, Gemzar/Carboplatin, 6 cycles. 3 blood transfusions and a 1 week stay in hospital later it was all over. Shrinkage was shown, the primary tumour had shrunk from 2.4 cms to 1.8 and it all looked good. I booked a holiday to Vancouver and L.A. for 6 weeks and took my partner and kids. It was a great time, seeing things I always wanted to see. I had some trouble breathing while I was over there and a scan was booked upon my arrival back home. Sure enough there was progression, but a lot worse than we had anticipated. Both lungs resembled a snow storm, the nodes in the chest wall had grown to 1.5cms, the primary was back up to 2.5cms and there was a nodule on the liver and one on my spine. I was stunned. My partner and I just thought our world had fallen apart. My onc suggested I could start on a new drug being trialled called Tarceva. He never told me the success rate of it, thankfully because if I had known I would have thought I was doomed.

Tarceva has been nothing short of a miracle for me. 20 months later it is still working, the "snow storm" disappeared, the tumour shrank and the spots on the liver and spine disappeared. I am a realist and I know that the cancer has not gone, but been held at bay by this drug. For some reason it chose to work it's magic on me. I am not a huge believer in God, but I am truly thankful this drug has worked for me. I chucked my job in, my onc told me to after the chemotherapy failed, but things like that don't matter any more.

It has been a hell of a trip, one I would not wish on anyone. It has tested me and the people in my life and still does. From being a laid back sorta person, to one with anxiety issues, is very hard for me to accept. The old me is now gone for good, replaced by this person, not one I always like to be honest. I have no fears anymore, nothing or nobody scares me anymore. I answer back to people I never would have once. I put the people in my life through many emotions, I am not easy to live with anymore. I feel cheated sometimes and angry. I hate this illness and what it has done. I hate the fact I won't live to be old and get angry when older people complain about being old. I have little sympathy for people who get old and get sick, I just wish it was something I was going to experience. I miss being like everyone else.

That said I am one of the lucky ones. I am still here almost 2 and a half years later. My kids are now almost 13 and 15 and my partner and I are still together. I have it a lot better than many others. I have love in my life and I cherish that. I still drink beer and see my friends and enjoy life. I hate hearing people say "be positive", it irks me. If anybody reading this feels the same, it's ok. It's ok to not feel "positive" everyday, many people say those words because they don't know what else to say. I fight this illness by living my life. I have refused to allow it to take away things I enjoy doing. That's how I define fighting. It's ok to feel down somedays, something will lift the spirits eventually, I know that. Every birthday, Christmas, New Year's is now precious. I love my partner, I love my kids and I will do whatever I can to stay here.

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