For eight months I was presenting the classic signs of lung cancer. But I was constantly misdiagnosed, which I now know is sort of the standard when you are considered young and a non-smoker. After I was diagnosed in January 2010, I had surgery to remove the lung cancer.
Following the surgery I felt quite positive. But within a few weeks I started to get my symptoms again. My cancer had come back and this time it wasn’t treatable by surgery. I underwent chemotherapy, which hit me really hard. I was also told that the best we could hope for was for the chemo to slow the growth of the cancer, so I could spend more time with my daughter. That isn’t something you want to hear in your early thirties.
As well as my health, another big worry during my illness was money. Because we’re a young family, we didn’t have a little nest egg built up. And although my employers were very good, I did feel a bit of pressure to get back to work so we’d have my salary again. Also, at that time, it wasn’t like my husband could take time off to be there for me and my daughter. He had to keep the money coming in. It’s for reasons like this that it’s so important people know about the financial support available to them.
After my chemo, I actually did decide to return back to work. Not just because of the money, but also because I wanted to feel like me again, like the person I was before this nightmare began. I didn’t want my diagnosis to define me and stop me living. So I’ve just got back into the swing of things and that seems to be working, because my doctors are amazed that, to date, my cancer hasn’t returned.
Another thing that’s helped following my treatment has been meeting other people like me. Through attending Roy Castle patient advocacy conferences I’ve met other younger people who’ve never smoked but have been diagnosed with lung cancer. From speaking to others at these meetings, I’ve also learnt the importance of lung cancer support groups and how they can prevent feelings of isolation as well.
I’m also very pleased to hear that Roy Castle is funding more and more research. As a bit of an anomaly, I’m very interested to know what the triggers are for people like me to get the condition. Also, my biggest worry of all is that my daughter will end up in the same boat when she’s older. So the more research into how we can prevent and treat lung cancer the better.