During the summer of 2018, I had been having difficulty breathing while walking uphill to my office each morning. I occasionally ran and exercised so I knew I wasn’t completely out of shape, but something wasn’t right. It took 4 visits over a period of 7-8 months to my primary care physician to get an x-ray and an answer other than, “you have allergies.” Once we finally had an answer it was a complete shock. The pulmonologist told me that I had stage 3 or 4 lung cancer (it was finally diagnosed at 3A and as an EGFR mutation). I was numb and quite frankly still thinking they had made a mistake about my diagnosis. At the original visit with the pulmonologist he’d stated that he “thought” I had cancer. So, there was still a chance he was wrong?
Once we had an official diagnosis and it sank in, I realized how cancer can disrupt the life of not only the person that is diagnosed, but also the lives of family, neighbors, friends and coworkers and especially the primary caretakers (thank you Jessie). But since October, I’ve missed what I used to complain about – the normalcy of my stressful busy daily life. I read somewhere that, “nothing clears a calendar like cancer” and they were right. It’s amazing how priorities can change so quickly.
I’ve had a rough 5 months but I have stayed positive throughout the process (most days) and to be honest, I’m not sure why, but I think I felt like it was my only option. For me, what helped was to surround myself with positive and happy people and to make an effort to enjoy the small things each day that made me happy – something I’d kind of forgotten before my diagnosis. Oddly, the office became my positive place. Several colleagues had to take over my teaching load and other duties and as if that wasn’t enough, they also often sent texts, flowers, and funny photos to brighten my day. I’m currently receiving immunotherapy infusions, so I’m not working as productively as I used to, but I have returned to the office.
The photo includes a couple of my colleagues from UNC Charlotte’s Engineering Technology and Construction Management Dept. These wonderful folks researched and found the Charlotte LUNGe Forward 5K and have raised funds and created the Glenda’s Gladiators team.
We are extremely saddened to say that on May 10, 2022, Glenda lost her battle. Glenda impacted many with her advocacy efforts and dedication to the mission of Lung Cancer Initiative.