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Little Mo's Story

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I was initially diagnosed in Septmeber 2002 with Stage IV NSCLC. I was 44 years old and hade been a non-smoker all of my life although I was exposed to a lot of second hand smoke from family members who did smoke. It has been classified as BAC. Initially, I had several nodules in my right lower and middle lung lobes along with some consolidation in the middle lobe. There is lymph node involvement. Maglinant pleural effusion was also found in this lung. A single brain met (.8cm) was also identified

I initially went to the doctor because I had this lingering cough and sometimes I could hear a crackling sound come from my lungs. Let me tell you that the cough would occur like once a day. It was mostly a dry cough although once in a while it sounded like a deep cough. The coughs were never productive. I had to really work hard to hear the crackling sound. I would need to be lying down perfectly still and in a certain position to hear it. When I realized neither were going away, I went to the doctor. I had my first chest x-ray ever. I was tired because I was not sleeping well at the time, however, my normal activities were not impacted. I was active and I had not experience any weight loss. I had yearly physicals ups since I was 40 and was current with recommended screenings. Needless to say, we were very surprised by the diagnosis and even more surprised by the staging. How could this happen with little to no warning!

The brain met was successfully treated with Gamma Knife in November 2002. Also, in Novemeber 2002, I started a clinical trial for Tarceva. We had great results. Today, the pleural effusion is completely gone and many of the intial nodules are gone or reduced in size. The doctors continue to track the disease by three marker tumors that are all small.

In December 2003, things started to change. There was some growth in the marker tumors but because they are so small it was hard to discern whether it was real growth versus differences in images when comparing two CT scans side by side. It was decided to stay on the drug and monitor closely. In April 2004, the changes in the tumors were significant enough to say that the cancer was growing. The marker tumors still continue to be very small. I was taken off Tarceva mainly because the growth exceeded the guidelines of the clinical trial. We tried Iressa for two months to see if a slightly different compound would help. It did not. At the end of April, two new small brain mets were identified (<.5mm and 6.5mm) and were treated with Gamma Knife in late May 2004.

Next week, I will start chemo as part of a clinical trial.

I am the mother of an almost 8 year boy who will be finishing second grade in a few days. I have been blessed with the love and support of my husband these 22 past years. We met after I just graduated high school. I have 3 wonderful brothers and a sister whom I treasure (btw she is sixteen years younger than me). We unfortunately have already buried both our parents in our young lives. Our family has been blessed with wonderful in laws and my nieces and nephew are true gifts to us all. We live in a wonderful rural town in north west New Jersey where we have made some wonderful friends and are active participants in our church community. All of these people are my cheerleaders.

Needless to say, I have experienced a lot of emotions over the past 18 months. I have no idea why I am on this path but I do know that I have a good life. I want my son to know me as the person that I am. So I work very hard at the gifts that I have been given – my marriage, my son, my family and friends and my work. When my son says he loves, I often respond by saying that I am some lucky woman. Every night when I tuck him into bed, I promise him that I will there for him in the morning. I am not in denial. I firmly believe these thoughts.

This is my story. Thanks for taking the time to learn more about me.

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