In August of 2015, I went from having a very active, healthy, life with a persistent cough and a little shortness of breath, to finding out I have stage IV Non Small Cell Lung Cancer. At the time of my diagnosis it had already spread throughout both my lungs and to my spine. How could this be? I was only 44. I was an on again off again smoker in my teens and twenties, but I quit smoking 14 years before my diagnosis.
I was a city letter carrier on walking routes and I would go to runner’s club once a week after a full day of work. Just weeks before my diagnosis I climbed the Manitou Incline in Colorado Springs, and ran down the Barr Trail for the first time. The incline has more steps than the Empire State Building!
My lung cancer has no cure and surgery is not an option, but it can be managed. I had 10 radiation treatments to shrink the largest tumor in my upper right lobe and my cough and shortness of breath disappeared. My cancer has the EGFR mutation so I take a pill once a day. My first follow up PET scan showed the large lung tumor had disappeared and all the tiny star-like nodules throughout both my lungs were gone too!
At the beginning of 2016, I had a one-time, high dose radiation treatment to the spinal tumor to help reduce pain and my follow-up scan showed No Evidence of Disease! Early on I asked a doctor, how long they manage my lung cancer. He said they can’t give me a time frame because of new treatments, different drugs and clinical trials. I joke that I got into lung cancer at the ground floor. Six lung cancer drugs were FDA approved in 2015. Five of those were after my diagnosis. Research and new drugs are so important for my quality of life and my most recent scan still shows No Evidence of Disease!
I continue to adjust to my new normal. Adjusting to lower energy levels is more of a mental than physical challenge for me. I have days with pain and discomfort, but I still go to work carrying mail. Life must go on. But instead of just living life day to day, I now appreciate every moment of it. I jump at the chance for any and all experiences.
My new motto…No Missed Opportunities. With good doctors, the latest treatments, and my positive attitude, I continue to live an active, otherwise healthy, life with lung cancer. Peace Lungs & Happiness…
I participated in the 2017 Super Bowl Challenge through the Chris Draft Family Foundation, as a Cleveland Browns fan living in Colorado. This is a fundraiser for Lung Cancer Awareness Month and beyond. The proceeds will benefit Team Draft and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC).
Visit Lisa’s Blog to learn more – Peace, Lungs & Happiness