Living Life AC (After Cancer)

2018-04-07T20:06:18+00:00January 22nd, 2015|Stories of Hope|5 Comments

By Deborah Benton, 15 year lung cancer survivor.

Deborah Benton

15 year lung cancer survivor, Deborah Benton

It’s a new year! For me, it is the year of my 15th birthday. It is really the year of my 59th birthday, but thanks to lung cancer, my life has been divided into two parts, BC (before cancer) and AC (after cancer). I was diagnosed with stage IB adenocarcinoma, on July 27, 2000 (my 44th birthday) and it rocked my world to its core. Within a week of diagnosis I had a lobectomy. I had no chemo or radiation and I have been cancer-free since then. The physical healing was easy, the emotional healing still continues. After surgery, I was sent off to “live my life”, only I had no idea how to do that anymore. I quickly found there were no support groups and pink ribbons for lung cancer. Not only that, but there seemed to be no compassion either, until I met the people at Lung Cancer Alliance. They were my salvation and I credit at least part of my survival to them. Each year gets easier, but the fear of recurrence really never leaves me. There is always that little voice in my head saying “Don’t get too complacent.”

When I was diagnosed I could not find a single person who had survived lung cancer long term. The good news is now I know lots of them! One of my wishes is that my story of survival can provide hope to all those who have to hear the words “You have lung cancer.” My other wish is that people realize there is no one way to survive cancer. Some of us speak with unbridled optimism and some of us never speak of our experiences at all. My method of survival involved a more pragmatic approach and I was often accused of not being grateful and of being pessimistic. Believe me neither of those accusations is even close to the truth. Survival is personal and, as with other aspects of life, we all do it differently. And you know what, even though I was not the most optimistic survivor, I am still here—healthy and happy! While it is probably far easier for most of us to listen to the optimist, it may be far kinder to give 1, 2, or dare I say even 5 minutes, to the person still grappling with recovery from a life and death diagnosis.


  1. Nancy March 29, 2018 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    I was diagnosed 7 mos. Ago with 1b adenocarcinoma. I had a lobectomy and I’m so scared . My mom died at age 57 with lung cancer who h was in 1987. I am 51 and it was found when I had a motorcycle accident. Everyone I tell gives me “that look”. I have a good attitude but just need to vent. Looking for encouragement.

    • Jama Colegrove April 6, 2018 at 9:20 pm - Reply

      I am 59 and was diagnosed (also an incidental finding) in November of 2016 with stage IIA NSC adenocarcinoma. I also had a lobectomy and then chemo and was also very scared at first. I had been a ‘stress smoker’ on and off during our kids’ teen and young adult years and knowing that my choices to smoke then may have caused my lung cancer has been hard for me to deal with. I wonder if people judge me, etc. I have had clean scans so far but am anxious about every little ache or pain in my body. I’m told by cancer survivors that this is the new normal and it will get easier, and I believe it will, if I survive… but I worry.
      Stage IB is so early. I hope that reassures you a little. My oncologist told me something encouraging when I first met with him: that I shouldn’t even bother looking at the numbers because “the numbers are for the researchers… they really don’t tell you anything about how you’re going to do.” So I stopped looking after that. Are you going to have chemo? Mine was really not too bad. You are not alone! You are not alone! Be strong and courageous. (( ))

    • janine April 11, 2018 at 2:31 pm - Reply

      Same story here, except fell off my horse. 48 at diagnosis……i think we will be fine. i have no chemo or radiation ordered. My surgeon said “Best possible outcome after surgery” Gave me excellent prognosis. i have decided to agree and back riding my horse. I call him PET Scan now. ha ha.


  2. Jenah August 11, 2018 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    40, diagnosed 3a andenocarcinoma May 30 this year, lower left lobectomy May 17. Scared out of my mind. My body can’t handle chemo. Had 1 round. Waiting for my radiation to start in a week or so. It’s hard to only see all the bad stuff. And I hate when people give me that look like I did it to myself. I’ve never smoked. If you have lungs, you are at risk. I just wish I had a crystal ball to see one, five, ten years into the future. The hardest part for me: my daughter is 10.

    Any positives would help.

  3. Clara September 18, 2018 at 7:05 am - Reply

    diagnosis of cancer is a life-shattering thing and coming to terms with reality is so painful for the person and also the caretaker. Getting the right support system is crucial for surviving cancer

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