I LOVE the fall in Minnesota and clearly remember the fall of 2005 following my diagnosis of lung cancer. I recall sitting on the couch looking at the gorgeous, vivid colors of the trees and feeling so calm. I knew there was absolutely nothing I could do other than trust in my faith, the physician’s, my family and friends to get me through whatever was to come.
On October 7th, 2011, I was diagnosed with a malignant non-small cell tumor in my right middle lobe bronchus. In an instant my life changed forever. Recently I had received a CT scan of my lungs, as I have severe COPD. The scan revealed a collapsed right middle lobe. A bronchoscopy was performed, a small mass was found, and the biopsy revealed the devastating news.
Being a nonsmoker and living a healthy lifestyle, I was floored when I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2013. As there is no cancer in my family tree, it was even more shocking. Seeking treatment I immediately sensed a stigma surrounding lung cancer. Everyone assumes you smoked. That angered me and to add insult to injury it seemed that all the focus and funding was on breast cancer.
I was diagnosed with lung cancer a year and a half ago. I am a former smoker, but quit 40 years ago so I never thought about the possibility of lung cancer. I was very fortunate that while undergoing a cardiac screening, I had a CT scan and an abnormality showed up on my lungs. My primary care physician followed up with me and I ended up being diagnosed with stage 1B lung cancer. Because of my diagnosis, I am a strong advocate for screening and early detection.
It all started fall of 2015 with a dry cough. I was a healthy, active 46-year-old nonsmoker – a working wife and mom of three teenagers. I ate healthy, swam competitively and practiced yoga. My cough would come and go, but I was never sick enough to go to the doctor and I had no other symptoms.
My cancer story began in March 2014 when I was diagnosed with stage IV adenocarcinoma lung cancer which had spread to my lymph nodes, spine, and hip. After extensive testing, I was informed I had a rare mutation called ALK and I could be treated with Xalkori which is an oral chemotherapy pill that had been successful in reducing the spread of the cancer.
In March 2014, Wendell Anderson and his wife took their girls to Florida where they ran on the beaches every morning. In April, Wendell hurt his back carrying a grill to their deck. He visited the doctor and a chiropractor. His pain caused him to miss a few events, such as Easter. Finally, he had enough of the pain and asked for an MRI. Before he left the office following the MRI, the technician told him his doctor would call tonight. Stunned, they had no idea why she would call in the evening.
Robbi Fanberg and her husband had been missionaries for 27 years in Central and South America. Their most recent project involved starting a coffee shop to try to establish relationships with the people of San Jose, Costa Rica.
Bonnie Ziskin has never been sick a day in her life. She describes herself as a driven individual who lives an adventurous and healthy lifestyle. She spends her time traveling, kayaking, riding horses and playing tennis. Bonnie lives life to the fullest and went back to school later in life to pursue a healthcare career. However, in 2012, injury and sickness came in three’s.
Curt Anderson began experiencing symptoms late in 2010. A chest X-ray proved negative, but gratefully his pulmonologist suggested a CT scan “just to be safe.” The scan showed a large tumor in his right lung which turned out to be non-small cell lung cancer. It did not appear to have spread beyond the lung. In 2011, Curt underwent chemotherapy, radiation treatment and surgery to remove his right lung. Today, Curt is very thankful to be among the fifteen percent of lung cancer patients who have survived this deadly disease.