Cancer Wins Only When We Stop Living Says Lung Cancer Fighter

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“Life’s challenges can make us bitter or better. Choose to learn and grow, not to be a victim of circumstances.”

Amy was diagnosed with lung cancer in May 2018. She is fighting her disease (at the time she submitted the story).

The Diagnosis

“I was diagnosed May 2018. After experiencing a dry chronic cough for several weeks and what I thought was pneumonia-like symptoms I went to the doctor. He sent me for an X-ray which showed a spot in my right lung. Long story short, a couple of weeks later and I had a diagnosis of stage 3b adenocarcinoma.”

The Journey

“I’m a 37 yr old mother of two young beautiful children. An avid runner, fitness instructor, triathlete and or racer. I found I was getting breathless with activity. This unusual breathlessness combined with a persistent dry cough and fatigue caused me enough concern to go to the Dr. He sent me for an X-ray which showed an approximately 3 cm spot on my right lung. Convinced I was too young and healthy for it to be cancer we did another X-ray, which showed the spot had grown about 1 cm in just over two weeks so a ct scan was ordered.

From the results of the ct, my Dr broke the news to me that it was likely cancer and to start preparing for surgery, chemo, and radiation. I was devastated and afraid. My greatest fear is leaving my children too soon. The tumor caused a partial collapse of my right lung and an infection developed under the mass which put me in the hospital for 5 days. A PET scan and a biopsy were performed there, confirming stage 3b adenocarcinoma, inoperable due to the tumor pushing into my heart.

Fortunately, because I’m otherwise so healthy, I was able to receive combined chemo and radiation. 30 radiation treatments and 3 chemo treatments shrunk the tumor out of my airway giving me back some quality of life. Before these treatments, I was so sick. Unable to hold a conversation or stand long enough to shower most days. Now I am able to care for my children, walk with them to the park, cook family meals and generally engage with my family again brings me so much joy.

Being so incapacitated and fearing the possibility that if treatments failed, my time would be short, really put things into perspective. I’ve been a stay at home mom for the last 8 years and my kids are my priority. I’m so grateful for the time we’ve spent together and I want more than anything to watch them grow up.

My next step in treatment will be biweekly immunotherapy transfusions for the next 12 months. Durvalumab/imfinzi is the only drug available with a cure intent for stage 3 lung cancer and fortunately, I meet all of the criteria to receive it. The only hope I have at this stage for a cure and for many more years with my family.

My journey so far has been punctuated with compassionate and exceptional care. Incredible support from friends, family, and community. We couldn’t have gotten through the worst of it without help. My incredible husband has been my rock and the most loving daddy to our kids. My diagnosis has really created an opportunity for those around me to shine.

At this stage of the journey, I feel like I’m slowly getting my life back. Less of a ghost, on the outside looking in I feel like a living active participant again.

I’m running/walking again, doing yoga and going to the gym. I credit my fitness level with helping me get through treatments so far. Physical activity helps me feel strong and in control. My goal is to stay as strong as possible through treatments for my physical and mental health. I want my children to watch how I handle this crisis and know for themselves that we don’t let the bad stuff break us. That we find the joy, accept help when we need it, and keep going.”

Motivation to fight cancer

“My children. I want to be around for all of the little things. I want them to really know me and I want to watch them grow up”

Message to other cancer patients

“Cancer only wins when we stop living. Don’t let the worries about tomorrow steal your joy today. Live fully and love life in spite of a cancer diagnosis.”

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