I had x-rays and pulmonary/respiratory tests for two years in a row, and they showed nothing. My naturopath is the one who ultimately found my lung cancer, and that’s not even what she was looking for.
My story started almost five years ago. I had a bad cough, but the x-rays looked clear, and the tests only showed that my breathing was a little labored. I went back a year later – same result.
Dr. Vo, my naturopath, wanted to rule out heart trouble, as my mother had died of congestive heart failure. She administered a CT scan in December 2016, and called to tell me that it looked as if I had lung cancer. After another CT scan, a PET scan, and a biopsy I was diagnosed with (EGFR) NSLGC. After some research, I decided to go to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for a final analysis. Dr. Goulart suggested an MRI of my brain, which confirmed that I had stage 4 lung cancer.
I started on 150mg Tarceva, and it shrank much of the cancer; however, it was too toxic for my liver. Even reducing my dose to 100mg proved to be too toxic. On 75mg, everything started to feel better for me. I started working out again, and I now have no cancer in my brain, nor my lymph nodes. The only remaining cancer was the original tumor, which had shrunk to .9 cm.
This month, I found my tumor had grown slightly – to 1.2 mm – so I had a blood test and will have a biopsy to determine if I have the T790M mutation. If they find that mutation, I will go on Tagrisso. My doctor said that if they don’t find T790M, I may be eligible for a clinical trial.
My husband Steve (in photo at left) has been most supportive and loving – he’s my biggest advocate, and we make a good team. I feel as if I have a sixth sense when it comes to my health, and Steve relies on my common sense when it comes to health issues. He also listens carefully to what the doctors say. Once we decided on Dr. Goulart and SCCA, we put our full faith in them.
My advice to new lung cancer patients is to get several opinions. Go to the best cancer doctors you can find, not just those who are geographically convenient. You need to find a virtuoso who really knows your specific cancer and can think creatively to find solutions.
One of the biggest challenges with this disease is to stay current and ahead of the game. So much information is out there on the internet. I’m lucky to have several support groups to alert me on new developments, including the Free to Breathe community on HealthUnlocked. Not only has it been a great source of information, it’s also a place where I can support and assist others.
I am a hopeful person and naturally optimistic, so I’ve been a cheerleader in life for all my friends and family. I have had my down times, but I try to bring myself up. After all, “God helps those who help themselves.” I stay informed and trust that my choices so far have been good ones.