Many thoughts cloud your mind when your doctor tells you “You have lung cancer.” Almost immediately your mind starts racing with questions such as, “What treatment is best for me? How will treatment affect my overall health and wellbeing? How do I navigate insurance, support, doctor’s appointments and work issues? How do I tell my family, friends and coworkers about my diagnosis? Will people blame me?” I know this because I was diagnosed with stage III-A non-small cell lung cancer in 1998. I was only 44 years old. I was told I had a 10% chance of living two years.
When I was diagnosed with lung cancer there was little information available and the very few resources that existed offered little hope. With the lack of information and survivors, I struggled through the disease alone. Because I am strong welled I was determined to beat the statistics. I searched the internet to find as much inforamtion on lung cancer as I could. This helped me take an active role in my care. It is so important to educate yourself about the disease so that you can interact with your health care team to insure the right treatment options can be obtained.
Many things have changed since my diagnosis. Today treatment options include more direct and targeted therapies. Tumors can be tested for a gene mutation and many lung cancer advocacy groups across the country have been organized.
Since my diagnosis in 1998 I have made it my personal priority to help improve the lives of lung cancer patients in Maine and across the nation.