I am a mother of two beautiful girls, Megan (25) and Madison (22). I have always been a person that exercises regularly. Over the past several months I found it difficult to climb stairs and go for a nice walk (or hike). I just thought that since I had taken some time off from the gym, I was really out of shape!
In November for the Thanksgiving holiday, I was on a camping trip with my fabulous boyfriend, Adam in Southern Ohio. We went for a 4 mile hike. It was really difficult for me to keep up! I hadn't experienced that before. I was used to being the one in the front, at the top of the hill waiting for everyone else. That evening I was in a lot of pain and was coughing like crazy. The next day, after visiting family in the area, I went to urgent care.
An X-ray revealed I had pneumonia. The urgent care facility gave me a prescription for an antibiotic, an inhaler, a shot of an antibiotic and a shot of steroids. The next day I felt a lot better. As a few days went by, I noticed I wasn't feeling better any more, I was feeling worse. I went to my family physician (a FANTASTIC MAN and friend), he believed the antibiotic they had prescribed for me in Southern Ohio wasn't adequate, and gave me a much stronger one. In a few days, I felt better.
Well, after completing the round of antibiotics, after a few days, I felt bad again. Doc ordered my X-ray from the urgent care facility and had me have another x-ray for comparison. Something was off. He ordered a CT scan. It has been a blur since. Everything happened so fast. I had my CT scan on Thursday, December 22nd. Doc called and asked me to come to his office that day. I did. He had sent my CT scan results to a Pulmonary doctor, and the next day, December 23rd, I learned the CT scan revealed 2 masses in my right lung and also showed some lymph nodes that were suspicious.
I was supposed to leave December 24th for a cross country road trip to visit my oldest daughter in California. The doctors encouraged me to continue with my plan and go on my trip. So, I did.
Adam and I returned to Ohio on January 8th, 2017. The following Wednesday, January 11th, I had a biopsy. They took 2 lymph nodes, and did a bronchoscopy. Friday the 13th (I know, right??), I received the word that, yes, I do have lung cancer... Stage 4. It has spread to my adrenal gland and my lymph nodes.
On Friday, February 3rd, I had my first round of chemotherapy. It was really scary. I'm doing well, and grateful to finally be implementing the "plan of attack".
Update 3-3-17 I have had two rounds of chemotherapy to date. This Monday, I have an appointment with my doctor. I have had a bone scan and a CT scan done and Monday I will find out if my treatment is working! I feel like it is, so I'm really hoping the news is good.
Update 3-7-17 As of yesterday, my "mass" has reduced by 25%. My lymph nodes are either the same or reducing! This is all good news. Moving forward with current treatment. 2 more rounds of friendly drip, then my team will decide my new course of action!
Updated 3-25-17 I have a new Oncologist! Insurance required, but definitely has turned in to a good match. My new Oncologist is Dr. Manisha Nanda. She is fabulous. She is personal, direct, informative and works with me as a whole. I am not just numbers on paper. I see her at least once every week and sometimes twice a week. She is very involved in my treatment on a personal level. She treats me like a friend when I'm there, and doesn't sugar coat anything. I am a believer that everything happens for a reason. I am where I need to be now.
Update 4-13-17 I like the new Oncologist a lot. They are very thorough. I have at least one appointment with them every week. They like to lay eyes on me and not just have a follow up on the phone. Each week, I get an additional drip for nausea and fluids. That has been a great help in how I feel in general. Awaiting my PET scan on the 24th of April. That will give us the direction of where we will go not for continued treatment.
Update 8-15-17 My PET scan showed things hadn't improved with my chemo treatments. Now I am on Opdivo. I had a real scare and was in the hospital for a week. My team of doctors did an emergency radiation treatment, followed by two additional treatments. They have worked well. Unfortunately, we discovered my cancer has spread to my brain. I have had one Gamma Knife treatment to zap 11 spots in my brain. It worked well. BUT, they found another spot. I have another Gamma Knife treatment tomorrow. Hopefully, they won't find additional spots, and it will be one and done.
I have two more Opdivo treatments, then will have another PET scan. Dr. Nanda says I can do the Opdivo for as long as it works. I have some side effects from it, but none that aren't manageable so far. I feel so much better, I think it is working. I hope so.
Update 10-26-17 Good news. The Opdivo appears to be doing its job. I'm feeling better and more "normal" every day. The chemo brain is still a problem, and my joints hurt all of the time. I will take the joint pain over the alternative any day. I am blessed. I have become a believer in God as my higher power. He certainly has answered many prayers. Thank you.
My journey has been challenging. I have support all around me. I am grateful for everyone.
I'm feeling good. I've had some side effects from Opdivo that have caused a delay in treatment. Working on getting the side effects addressed (appears to be successful) so the Opdivo drip can begin again.
In just a month, I will reach my one year mark of diagnosis. It's stressful. I'm so grateful I'm still here. I'm working hard.