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Lend your "voice" to Voices of Survivors


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Please consider lending your voice to Voices of Survivors TODAY.

My friend and fellow cancer survivor, Lynn Lane's cancer foundation, Voices of Survivors, is in need of stories from survivors and co-survivors (everyone here can lend your voice)

This organization represents all cancer types but FEW lung cancer voices are represented.

Please contact Lynn, let him know that Katie Brown sent you and that you'd like to lend your "voice" and represent lung cancer.

Let's make sure Lung Cancer is well represented, people know our stories and the statistics and real need for funding and compassion.

Contact lynn at lynn@voicesofsurvivors.org

Here is my story in the written word: (Note that we are now well over 7,000 members (yay) and this story was published before my FT position with LUNGevity as the Manager of Advocacy Communication)


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Lynn did write back, and I sent her my story.

This is what I wrote.

My story…..

My little sister (age 25) died from brain cancer. 3 years later my father died from the same disease. Two years later my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, and survived it only to be diagnosed four years later with lung cancer. She passed away 9 months from diagnosis from that. In between the years of dealing with their illnesses, my Mom’s sister and brother died from lung cancer. I’ve said all of this to lead into my thinking that it was not going to be IF I got cancer, but more like WHEN.

In 2007, as my Aunt was in the last stages of life, she asked me to get a CT scan. I was 52 years old, and she implored me to have the test. She thought that if I did have cancer, maybe I’d be the one to beat it, since no one in my family had. I went to my doctor, armed with a list of lung cancer symptoms, that I pulled off the internet on Google. I made my request, and my doctor thought I was crazy to even think of asking for such a thing. I had quit smoking in 1999, and was, on the surface, extremely healthy. But with my insistence, and the list of symptoms (of which I had none), he reluctantly agreed to schedule a CT scan.

3 hours passed after the scan, when to my horror and shock, my phone rang, and the caller ID was my doctor’s office. It was with great trepidation that I answered that phone. I already KNEW what I was going to hear. They would not call me back that quickly unless they found cancer. And that is what they told me. I had lung cancer. That was the bad news. The good news was they believed it was contained in one lobe, and there was no evidence that it had spread. They recommended immediate surgery to remove the lobe, which I thought was a drastic and dramatic thing to do. My husband wanted confirmation from a source we could trust, so a trip to Mayo Clinic was booked. They were amazing people. We got in immediately, were treated so well, and met with a team of specialists, who concurred with the doctors in my home town.

I woke with an epidural in my spine, and amazingly was not in much pain. I did have some complications from the surgery, which forced me to stay in the hospital for 16 days. When I was finally cleared to go home, they set me up for six months of chemo therapy treatments. They presented it to me as an option. My cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes or anywhere else, but my Oncologist thought my best chances for long term survival was to go through the chemo. With the history of my family, I decided to go through it.

It’s not necessary to go through the gruesome details of chemo. My hair began to fall out with the first treatment, so I decided I didn’t need to mourn that, and shaved my head at the first sign of it falling out. I decided that I would face this with a positive attitude, and refused to let it get me down, in spite of the horrific side effects. When I went to chemo, I dressed smartly, with a hat that always complimented my outfit, earrings on, make up on, and everyone would comment on how nice I looked, while they sat there in pajamas or sweat pants, looking like victims of a disease. I didn’t want to feel like a victim, for I was not!

Today, I am 3 years out, and cancer free. I’m not the same as I was before. I’m sure you’ve heard many times about finding your new normal. That is life after cancer.

As for the inevitable rude question that I get from people “did you smoke?”. I respond with statistics. 60% of all lung cancers being diagnosed today are with people who never smoked, or quit smoking years before their diagnosis. Lung cancer is the #1 killer of women, ahead of breast cancer. Only 15% of lung cancer survivors live beyond 5 years from diagnosis. Lung cancer is the most under funded research effort of all types of cancers, and yet it’s the #1 killer. These facts help raise awareness, and also take the focus off the stigma that the people who get this disease deserve it. No one deserves cancer.

I hope the last part makes it in.

Judy in MI

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