Lynn’s Story

I am a Lung Cancer survivor. On January 8, 2017 I had chest pains. These weren’t new but they were different and actually I had been having intermittent chest pains but they always went away. This time seemed different, and my daughter insisted that I go to the ER. I went to the ER and as a 66 year old woman, they took me into triage immediately. My heart was fine. But the nurse came into the room and said they found a mass in the upper lobe of my right lung. The CT scan confirmed this. I went home and then met with an oncologist the next day. He did not think that I had lung cancer. The pulmonologist was next on my list and he too thought that perhaps I had an infection but scheduled a PET scan.

The PET scan showed a mass and the diagnosis was Cancer stage Ib, infection, or fungus. I had a bronchoscopy on February 1st. I failed the test. I had lung cancer.

On February 16th, I had a lobectomy and unfortunately 8 of 13 lymph nodes showed abnormalities which moved me from Stage Ib to IIIa. Surgery was followed by chemotherapy and radiation. As I didn’t lose my hair, I really didn’t have to share my diagnosis with anyone. I shared it with family and a few friends. To a new person, there was a “shocked” reaction. How could I have lung cancer? I never smoked. I exercise. I eat well. But, I have a biomarker. In the long run, I was lucky.

I had a great team of doctors. When my diagnosis was clear, I was offered options for treatment. For me the choice was simple—surgery. Everyone might not make this choice. My surgery was followed by chemotherapy and radiation. My last radiation session was on the morning of July 27, 2017. This was also the day that our second grandson was born!

I was cancer free for two years and then, in June 2020, my scan picked up many nodules. I started Tagrisso and I now have no evidence of disease. I have also started to open up about my cancer. Recently, I became a mentor with both Lung Cancer Initiative and Lungevity. These relationships are important for both the mentor and the mentee. Lung cancer is almost a hidden disease and it is hard to find others with Lung Cancer. With a few other lung cancer friends we revamped a local support group. Now, it is time for more public advocacy as a way to have more people talk about lung cancer and realize that anyone can get lung cancer. It is also time to think about lung cancer as a chronic medical issue rather than a terminal disease.