Nothing could have prepared me for the diagnosis of lung cancer last May. I had worked for almost 30 years as a pharmacist, most of them at UC Davis Medical Center. But everything I knew about diseases and pharmacology went out the window when the tables turned and I became the patient.
My diagnosis was baffling. I had never smoked and although my father was a heavy smoker, I had not been exposed to secondhand smoke for more than 35 years.
For two weeks following my diagnosis, I couldn't find anyone to talk with who was a lung cancer survivor, who could help me sort through my shock and fear of what was in store. But God sent an angel in the form of Carol Sill, a six-month Stage IV lung cancer survivor, who was willing to call me, comfort me and help me make a decision about participating in a clinical trial at UC Davis.
I'll always be grateful to her for making that call. Today, I have had a good response to chemotherapy and cetuximab, a non-FDA approved therapy for lung cancer, and continue to participate in the study.
Legacy, our UC Davis-based lung cancer support group, has encouraged me and given me hope and a sense of caring that only other survivors can offer. At our meetings, I have learned that twice as many women die from lung cancer than from breast cancer. I have learned that less than $2,000 per lung cancer death is spent on lung cancer research versus $18,000 per breast cancer death.
Stronger than cancer
Through Legacy, we want to be available to talk to any newly diagnosed lung cancer patient who needs that special call of reassurance and hope. We want to be the forum for the many survivors needing understanding and support as they battle this deadly disease.
With the love and support of my husband, the encouragement and care I've received at UC Davis Cancer Center, the friends we have made in Legacy, the love of a close family, friends and most importantly to us, the many prayers on my behalf, I am prepared to be stronger than cancer, to fight a good fight and live each day with hope, joy and thanksgiving.
For information about cancer support groups available in the greater Sacramento region, please visit the Cancer Resource Center on the first floor of the UC Davis Cancer Center or call (916) 734-5935. Information is also available online in the "Patients & Visitors" area of our Web site at www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/cancer.