Sheila Kozar could hear noises when she breathed and knew this wasn’t normal. She decided to go to the doctor, but her symptoms were dismissed and nothing more was done. A while later, her husband was diagnosed with pneumonia. Sheila thought this might be what was ailing her as well, so she made an appointment and begged the doctor to listen to her. She was told that it was not the normal standard of care to have a chest-ray with her symptoms. Sheila insisted. The doctor called within a couple of hours of Sheila’s scan and told her they may have found cancer. After further testing, Sheila was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2010.
Sheila remembers feeling very confused over the next few weeks regarding how to proceed with treatment. After additional testing, she was told that the cancer had metastasized to her brain and that her tumors were inoperable. After consulting with numerous doctors, she made the difficult decision to have surgery. During surgery, portions of her lung were removed and just two weeks later, she had gamma knife surgeries to remove the tumors in her brain. Sheila has had an additional lung and gamma knife surgery since that first one. She is now battling cancer in the bone of her left leg and has had two rounds of radiation on that tumor as well. She is on targeted therapy and has just completed a clinical trial.
Sheila has been battling her cancer for eight years. She feels that her faith and sense of humor have helped her keep a positive attitude, which research shows can lead to better outcomes. Sheila said, “It has been a blessing to meet so many wonderful people on this journey.” Sheila takes comfort in finding the positive even in this most difficult battle.
Sheila would like people to know more about lung cancer. She wants people to advocate for themselves with their doctors. Early detection is vital to fighting this cancer. Sheila is involved with ABOH to help raise awareness to help others avoid a stage 4 diagnosis and lend support where needed.