Early signs and symptoms
In 2014, I had pain in the left side of my neck’s carotid artery. My doctor sent me for heart check ups. Tests showed negative for heart disease. Apart from pain, I also had severe fatigue. So this was very unusual so I went to the emergency department at my local hospital. My ECG showed that I had a little blip that might have been the cause of my condition. The cardiologist decided to admit me to the hospital. I even had an angiogram. Finally, the cardiologist gave me the news that I had lung cancer after seeing a shadow on an X-ray. I was sent to an Oncologist who found a small tumour of size 2.6 cm.
Doctors felt that the tumour was small enough to perform surgery. So they sent me to a thoracic surgeon. He explained the whole procedure of a right upper lobectomy to me in-depth. The VATS procedure is a very easy surgery because it is carried out by making three holes in the side of your arm and ribcage. I knew that it was the best thing to do so I went through with the surgery.
I used CBD oil which I found very helpful. After surgery, I had radiating pain under the arm from where lymph nodes were taken out and also where the chest drainage tube was. Even now, CBD oil is helpful for that radiating pain. I also do massage therapy and chiropractic therapy which relieved my muscles from getting tight in my ribcage. I’m also into natural therapies that are working very well.
My family and my husband supported me a lot. And my friends also gave me a lot of support.
Fear of recurrence
Lung cancer is one of the cancers that does come back. So even though they had found my cancer at stage one, I was worried that it could come back. Then I came across this website called Longevity.org which has a lot of information on lung cancer. I applied to go to the conference for lung cancer survivors. There was so much information at this conference with 400 other people who had lung cancer. And I felt at home knowing that I wasn’t alone with lung cancer.
I started my advocacy for lung cancer. We started a Canadian support group on Facebook called the Canadian Lung Cancer Advocacy Breathe Hope Group. Through that group, we now have 289 patients. It’s so nice that we have a group for people to find out information about lung cancer, also to talk to other lung cancer survivors, and be able to know that they’re not alone in their journey with lung cancer. And I also advocate for the Lunghouse Foundation, Lung Cancer Canada, and the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network.
So all of these organisations are very good at providing a platform for advocates like me to be able to talk about what we’ve learned about lung cancer and how we can share it with others. And they even have provided me a platform to speak with our local politicians in the province of Ontario where I live. I thank God for everything that he has done for me in my life. Also to allow me to live with lung cancer and to reach out and help people on the Earth.
Stigma about lung cancer
People often ask lung cancer patients if they smoked. I am annoyed by this question because it only adds to the stigma. We did a campaign on the stigma around lung cancer called Hashtag the wrong question. And it talks about what not to say to a lung cancer patient who is going through treatment. The right question would be how can I help you and then move forward? I’m trying to make a difference about lung cancer in Canada. I do peer-to-peer support, and speak to lung cancer patients now across Canada. I help them to get the right information like what to ask from the oncologist, where to search for information, etc.
Message to cancer patients and caregivers
When you’re first diagnosed, the worst thing you can do is go on the internet. So you should wait until the treatment plan is in place and then move forward. After that, find out the information and join any support group you can get that deals specifically with your cancer. So if you can find a breast or a colon or a lung or pancreatic cancer group, I suggest that that’s the best thing that you can do so that you don’t feel alone with this terrible diagnosis.