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Diagnosed With Lung Cancer at 24- Heather's Story


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http://blog.lungevity.org/2011/06/28/di ... cer-at-24/

Diagnosed With Lung Cancer at 24

June 28th, 2011 - by Heather Geraghty

On December 28, 2010 I was told that I had lung cancer.

It didn’t seem possible. I was only 24 years old! According to the surgeon, the tumor had been growing for years.

On January 20, 2011 I had two-thirds of my right lung removed. I had 23 of the longest days of my life knowingly living with cancer, and when it vanished from my body the shock of knowing still remained.

After surgery everyone who had surrounded themselves around me had returned to their daily routines, but I was still left wondering “how could this happen to me?” I thought to myself over and over again “What if I never found out? Would I still have lung cancer right now?” My lung cancer seemed to come and go so quickly from my life, and when it was gone I didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt alone, I couldn’t talk to anyone because nobody could relate to me. I felt scared, not only had I gone through painful surgery but I didn’t want the cancer to come back.

My friends didn’t understand which made it difficult to talk to them about any aspect of my cancer. During this time I was surprised to see faces of people, especially those who showed their concern. I was more surprised when I didn’t see the faces of people who I thought would be the most concerned. This was the first time in my life that I felt completely helpless. Simple tasks such as sitting up in bed, walking from one room to the next, and taking a deep breathe were significantly difficult after surgery. My mom and dad were the most impacting during my recovery, and still remain my biggest supporters to this day.

At times, even now, it is still difficult for me to admit to myself as well as aloud that I am a lung cancer survivor. Many days it doesn’t seem real, and I don’t believe that it has happened to me. Lung cancer has changed my whole perspective on life, which has forced me to refuse to take anything for granted.

My first check up is in August, the first of many to come in the next 2-3 years. And I am terrified to be told that the cancer has come back. Since experiencing lung cancer, I have been horrified to find that there is little known about this cancer, however, many stereotypes exist. Recently, I met someone who told me that “anyone who gets lung cancer did something to deserve it”. At first this made me angry, but then I felt defeated because I realized many people in society feel this way about lung cancer.

I hope to change this perspective with the support of an organization called LUNGevity.

The LUNGevity Foundation raises money and awareness for lung cancer research. I have found a family within this organization that has given me hopes for my future and the future of lung cancer. Since connecting with LUNGevity I have dedicated my time to organizing the 1stannual lung cancer fundraiser for LUNGevity at Café Fontana’s in Maple Shade on September 7, 2011 from 7pm-10pm.

The objective of this event is to confront, promote, and speak freely about the many faces of lung cancer in order to begin erasing the stigmas. Proceeds will benefit LUNGevity. Tickets are $50 – food, drinks, music, 50/50 cash raffle, Chinese auction, door prizes, and more!

To purchase tickets and for more information please visit: www.heathergeraghty.blogspot.com or call (609) 330-3617

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Heather,

I read this yesterday when Katie posted it on FB. All I can say is how humbled I am to read your story, and Kathy's story. You both are so young. Our Sara here too, very young. Lung cancer is not an old person's disease anymore.

What your doing is so important. Keep up the good work. YOu inspire me.

Judy in MI

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  • 1 month later...

You are a very inspiring story Heather...

I wish that what you are going through will be a past dream and everything will end up fortunately with good results. I wish that it will teach yo lessons about the gift of life and enjoying every minute of it.

I have wondered a thousand times why people are so inconcerned and indifferent, especially when it has to do with persons very close to them. Although I am a ceregiver, I realise how many of my friends are living in their owh world...it makes me feel so lonely but I have to move on after all and leave behind all those immature persons. I try to do things that really make me feel good and enjoy the company of many many few.

So don't let anybody make you feel guilty...

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Thank you Heather for an amazing story. 24 years young and this happens. As I read this I saw the comment about lung cancer patients having done "something" to deserve this. No one deserves this. Not a smoker, not a soul. All I did in my life was work in an atmosphere that was not only unsafe but also hazardous. People in my age group who have spent careers in construction, auto shops, treatment plants and a myriad of other places were and still are at huge risk. Is it our own doing or us simply trying to bring home the bacon? When you see pictures of miners with black dust covered faces, are they asking for lung cancer? No, just a decent paycheck. Sorry about getting off point, that just strikes a nerve in me. Heather's story is perfect evidence that lung cancer does not discriminate . I wish you well Heather.

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  • 1 month later...

Thank you everyone for sharing some nice comments. My August scan was VERY GOOD. Recently I have been having a lot of discomfort at my incision spot, otherwise I cannot complain too much. I think that my body is still getting use to the weather changes, and maybe I can expect to have increased discomfort during the fall months. So far, I hate it. I will certainly not be looking forward to this time of year! I will be calling the surgeon's office on Monday.

Thank you all again for the kind words.

post-42343-141270979345_thumb.jpg

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Heather, good news on the scan! As for the discomfort? It took a couple of years before I didn't even feel my incision spot. Not that it hurt bad, but it did hurt. I had to remember they had to cut through muscle and ribs to get to the lobe, and that it was very invasive, and that helped me put it into perspective.

If the discomfort is really bad, ask for some pain medication!

Judy in MI

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Hi Heather,

Fine Scottish name-ahem-sorry about being at the Coo's tail in welcoming you,dont know where I am recently.Wow what a story you have shared,despite being so unfair on so many different levels,I found it so inspirational,particularly your attitude to your new situation,you have managed to pick up the pieces and get on with your life.

I would have loved to have attended your fundraisers,but there is a small matter of the pond between us,I wish you well in all that you are doing in not only fundraising,but in bringing the subject of lung cancer to many peoples attention.

I have to say post op discomfort at my wound site did persist for a while,it was'nt particularly painful,just enough to remind you it was there,I just accepted this little bonus and got on with life,I did think this effect would be with me for the rest of my life,well what do you know,some time ago it just disapeared completely.

I wish you all the very best for a long,happy and fulfilling life.

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Congratulations on your good scan results!

I think your story is amazing. I have had lung cancer twice now - but at 50 and 60, not 24. This disease is bad enough at any age, but I know at 24 I would not have been able to handle it with the grace and courage you have shown. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

I had my left lung removed in 1998, and I do remember having some discomfort from the surgery for almost 2 years. As I remember, the first 6 months was the worst, then it did get less as time went on, but it took awhile before it was totally gone.

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Great news on the scan, Heather!

Yes, like too many old injuries, that incision may tell you about weather changes from now on. But I get almost no pain from my incision area. The only exception is if I get too lax about my core muscle exercises (which I do from time to time when my back flares up). When I get back to those exercises regularly, my incision pain is gone. Of course, I have almost four years since my surgery, and I'm sure you'll keep improving.

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  • 6 months later...

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