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.
I have been on Xalkori for 2.5 years now and the side effects are less debilitating than those some might expect while on traditional chemotherapy. For this reason I am able to maintain an active lifestyle and continue to work and do the things I really enjoy such as spending time with family, traveling, and attending sporting events (Skol Vikings!) Researchers have since developed two more drugs to try if the Xalkori fails and I may be eligible for immunotherapy, as well.
A few months after my diagnosis, I went to the Tuesday night lung cancer support group in Edina. I met MJ Mckeon – cofounder of A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation – and I learned about the organization. The very first A Breath of Hope event I attended was the outdoor vigil on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol. It was a very cold evening but my heart was warmed by the wonderful stories of hope! Next I attended the A Breath of Hope Women’s Wellness Tea at the Arboretum which was such a fun and educational afternoon.
I decided to get more involved with A Breath of Hope and began volunteering at the A Breath of Hope Lung Run/Walk Twin Cities, Chicago, and Duluth. The vast majority of funds raised by A Breath of Hope go directly to lung cancer research and patient support. Words cannot express how grateful I am to A Breath of Hope for contributing to the research that has been instrumental in creating the drugs that are extending my life.