I am taking part in Shine a Light on lung cancer and trekking at altitude through the Peruvian Andes to raise much needed funds for Lung Foundation Australia. Why?
Because my beautiful friend Sam was diagnosed with lung cancer just over a year ago and has been told her cancer is inoperable and incurable.
This is her story:
“It started in August 2017; at the time I had a pretty bad cough and was being treated for pneumonia, I was also having physio for a sore back, right arm and rib (symptoms of LC but all too commonly misdiagnosed or ignored). On Saturday night, 26th August, I admitted myself to the ER as I could hardly breathe and was in severe pain. After a scan I was told by my doctor they had found a lump in my right lung, due to its shape and size it was 99% Lung Cancer.. Words cannot describe the fear and confusion, how alone I felt in that tiny ER room..
Fast forward 2 weeks, through invasive tests, scary scans and doctor’s appointments, and I find myself sitting in my Oncologists room having my worst fears confirmed: you have Lung Cancer. It has spread into your lymph nodes surrounding your heart and spine. It is inoperable and incurable. Treatment will hopefully shrink it, we are hoping for TIME.
The game changer here, the reason I am in so much trouble, is these 2 words: INOPERABLE and INCURABLE..
I have EGFR Lung Cancer, an aggressive genetic mutation, a smart cancer that can’t be cut out, cannot be stopped. I will be on treatments for the rest of my life to help contain her, keep her in her box. But I was warned by my doctor she is a cheeky bitch, and she will find her way around any treatment thrown her way and come back with a vengeance. Which she has proven twice already in just over 12 months.
In September 2017 I started a Targeted Treatment called ‘Tarceva’. A daily tablet with very promising results but some unfortunate side effects including a nasty vanity stripping rash all over your upper body and face (sorry to all the children I scared picking up Cooper from kindy). The results were amazing, with scans showing in November tumours shrinking considerably – cue ecstatic screaming!!
Unfortunately in early 2018 I started getting pain and I knew she was back, with scans in February confirming my fears she had found a back door around the ‘Tarceva’. I subsequently started a chemo infusion; 2 chemo’s every treatment day, to really hit her hard. The roller coaster of emotions continued, the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, when within months scans came back showing all tumours had shrunken, major WINNING! Chemo side effects were hard but they were worth every single nauseous moment.
Devastatingly, on the 3rd October, scans showed I now had 2 new tumours in my right lung and a large tumour in my left hip – she is in my bones now! I have since started Immunotherapy and in November I add Radiation to my list of “New things I have done but don’t want to do this year''.
You are one tough cookie cancer, but I am tougher. You are smart, but I have many doctors who are smarter. You are stubborn, but I will fight you till my last breathe. You picked the wrong girl #bossbabe.
So let’s cut to the cold hard ugly facts folks (and believe me when i say it makes me sick with fear just writing them).. Lung Cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancer in Australia with just 15 percent of people living five years past their diagnosis, with 1 Australian dying every hour! It is Australia’s biggest cancer killer yet it receives less than 5% of government cancer research funding!
Anyone can get Lung Cancer; man, woman, young, old, smoker, non-smoker. It doesn’t discriminate with an average of 34 people per day being diagnosed in 2017, 1 of them being me!
Lung Cancer Australia needs your help, your very generous $$$ donations, so those smart, amazing scientists can work their magic making new treatments we so desperately desperately need - and please oh please a CURE! This cancer chapter of my life is an absolute nightmare.. But I firmly believe that with your help WE can create some good out of this, something amazing –we can give Lung Cancer patients hope for a future that is currently bleak at best, time with their kids, friends and family, a chance for love and memories, a chance for old age... – the things I am so desperately fighting for ... LIFE
I ask everyone can you please spread the word and help reverse the stigma by sharing the crap out of this link. And please if you can donate, big or small, every little $$$ adds up!! And in return for your amazing generosity you will be helping to save so many people’s lives, including mine.”