Friday, November 8, 2013

My Lung Cancer Story for the American Lung Association


From Minnesota – The story of how I figured out I had lung cancer:
 Early February of 2004 I was having extreme anxiety and panic attacks. I ended up in ER twice because of it. The second time the anxiety was so severe, I thought I was having a heart attack. The doctor said that my heart was fine but the x-ray revealed a small spot on my right lung. She asked me if I was a smoker and I told her I had never smoked. She told me that anyone can get spots on x-rays, especially in Minnesota because of the melting and freezing temperatures. She suggested I follow up with my primary doctor, although she didn't seem too concerned about the spot. After seeing my doctor, I was set up for a CT scan. The scan revealed that the spot had gotten bigger since my trip to the ER. I was quickly scheduled for a biopsy, and sadly, the results revealed I had non-small cell lung cancer. Later I learned that the pathology report showed the cancer had spread to my trachea and bronchi lymph nodes. This result changed my stage 1 A diagnosis to 3 A. I underwent surgery to remove the middle lobe of my right lung followed by five months of chemotherapy, and finally radiation. Those were scary, difficult days but I fought hard and won. I am happy to say, I will be ten years cancer free this coming St. Patrick's Day. I thank God every day for the gift of health and life. My cancer journey, although difficult, taught me how precious every day is and not to sweat the small stuff.

I feel grateful to the American Lung Association for letting me share my lung cancer story with others. I hope my story will help educate people on this type of cancer. I also hope my story will help reduce the stigma that often comes with a lung cancer diagnosis. No one deserves cancer, and whether you are a smoker or non-smoker, you deserve support.


  1. Great post my dear friend! I've written several updates on my blog site regarding my lung cancer. Not sure if you've read them but wanted to let you know that I posted one this morning. Have a great weekend!

  2. Hi Susan-you don't know how good it is to hear from you. I've been thinking about you non-stop as well as praying for you. I love you Susan and I hope your feeling ok these days :-) On my way to read your blog posts.

  3. Wow! It's simply amazing, isn't it, how delicate life is? You are a strong woman! I know another person who had lung cancer without ever smoking a day in her life! She is truly an inspiration to all of us on our local Team In Training team. She runs marathons now!!! 10 years...congratulations!!

  4. Thanks so much Marathon Momma. Yes, life is such a blessing and it really hits you when your given a life threatening diagnosis or dealing with any health issue. It sounds like your a very strong woman too. Hope your feeling ok these days and learning ways to live with the health issues. Thanks for coming by my blog. Looks a lot like yours doesn't it? We have good taste. LOL

    1. LOL! Yes, very similar!! Great taste!! So, I read through your About Me section, and it says you have done running support groups! That's so AWESOME! I have long thought that would be a fabulous way to give and receive therapy! Love it! Well, I was only just recently diagnosed...within the past month for alllllll of it! So I am just starting to figure out ways to live with's going to be a while before I really understand and know my "new" body...but I think the hardest part is accepting that things will be different than you had planned/hoped. And especially in our work, work, work, that was always my own mentality, as well. So to allow myself to rest when I need it is/has been very difficult. And with this all being newly diagnosed, there is still so much that is unknown about my health and my/my family's future. Just going to try to stay as positive as I can and make sure I do actually rest so that I am better for my kids. Anyway, sorry for the novel. Thanks for acknowledging me. :)

  5. I know i struggled initially when it came to how the diagnosis and treatments changed my life. I really had to learn to respect my body and listen to it when it was tired etc..I am now really finding joy and comfort in my new normal. I started writing again after the diagnosis and that has been so healing for me. My dream was always to work from home being a writer. Who would have thought that dream would come true after a cancer diagnosis. You will find your way through all of this-be gentle with yourself and your limitations. It's ok not to do everything.

  6. I am so happy for you that your dream came true, even if it did come about from unfortunate circumstances! Thank you for your advice! I appreciate it!