In the early spring of 2011 I was on my first 6-mile outdoor run of the season. My hip was really bothering me. Two weeks later my husband insisted that I go see the orthopedist for my, “sports injury.” After several weeks and an MRI my doctor referred me to an orthopedic oncologist to discuss treatment for the growth in my hip. On June 2, 2011, at the age of 46, I had a hip reconstruction. A long titanium rod with six screws now holds my hip together. My doctor told me it was cancer and that I would probably not live to see my daughter graduate from high school. At the time she was 15 years old and my oldest of three. My boys were 13 and 11.
Fast forward, it turned out that I had NSCLC with one very small tumor in my upper left lobe. No other cancer was found anywhere with the exception of my hip. I underwent radiation to the hip and my pathology was genetically tested. It found that I have the EGFR mutation. I have been on Tarceva ever since. I underwent a lobectomy later that year. There was one cancerous lymph node adjacent to the tumor so I then underwent four rounds of chemo. All was good following those crazy few months and I continued on the Tarceva. Then, at exactly four and a half years to the day, a PET scan revealed that I had mets in my brain. I’ve undergone two gamma knife surgeries and am currently back in remission.
I am so thrilled to have such a wonderful team of doctors! I was not only able to see my daughter graduate high school, but also go through the process of choosing a grad school. She will begin that next chapter in August. My 13 year old is now 19 and finishing his freshman year in college and my 11 year old is now a high school junior on the college search. Every day is a miracle for which I am so grateful.
The best advise I could give a newly diagnosed patient is don’t despair. Keep a positive attitude for yourself and your family. There are so many new treatment options since I’ve been diagnosed, with more on the horizon.
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