Barbara’s Story

My name is Barbara and I am a 43-year-old two-time cancer survivor. I have lost 4 family members to lung cancer over a 10-year period starting at age 27, including my dad, uncle, grandmother and my mother. I was also the caregiver for both of my parents.

Due to my family cancer history, I had genetic testing done, but none of these were conclusive. In 2016, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, which was cured with surgery and radioactive iodine to kill any remaining cancer cells.

In July of 2022, I was in the emergency room after falling down some stairs, and doctors found a pulmonary nodule in my lung. I thought to myself, “Lung cancer again.” The physicians were expecting an early-stage diagnosis, but when I had surgery to remove it, I was diagnosed with stage 3A lung cancer with a rare mutation called ROS1. Lung cancer is not always a smoker’s disease. In fact, those that have a ROS1 mutation are primarily non-smokers or those that smoked very little. I did not have any symptoms that would have made me think I had something like this inside of me even after all my personal experience with this disease.

I finished 4 rounds of chemotherapy that ended in December 2022, and started immunotherapy (which activates my immune system to kill my cancer) in mid-January 2023. I will continue this for treatment for 1 full year to improve the chances that my cancer will be cured. I still have a long road with continued immunotherapy and scans, but I am so thankful I am here.

I have now seen cancer from the viewpoints of a caregiver, provider, and a patient. With the time I have left, I will continue to strive to make positive changes in this world. One way I am doing this is by participating in the Lung Cancer Initiative LUNGe Forward 5K Run, Walk and Celebration in Charlotte, NC, on May 20, 2023. My goal is to raise money for lung cancer research to help improve the statistics for lung cancer survival.