8th June 2023

A can do attitude to lung cancer

View all Patient Stories

Natasha went from having “highly curable” lung cancer to terminal disease within a matter of weeks. Yet despite this devastating turn of events, Natasha has chosen to focus on the positives; her treatment is working, her tumours have shrunk and her cancer is stable. Natasha now shares her experience with in a bid to offer a little bit of hope to others facing the unthinkable.

“The way I see it is that when you are diagnosed with incurable lung cancer, you have two choices: you can sit in a corner, rock, cry and scream, or you can try and most the most of every day.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I do scream and shout and cry. When my prognosis changed from curable to incurable, I just thought my life had ended.

I also distinctly remember feeling a deep sense of guilt; I felt terrible that I was the cause of so much pain and upset to my family. I was sat in the front room watching my husband, my children, my parents and my sister trying to digest the news and feeling like I was in the eye of the storm; I had created all this chaos around me and I was feeling nothing but numbness.

I don’t feel this way as much now. I just can’t live my life like that. There are still moments of great sadness and distress; when my husband and I had to tell our daughters than my cancer was no longer curable springs to mind as one of those awful moments.”

“The girls asked some very tricky questions that I simply don’t have the answers to, but I think it’s so important to keep talking and as a family, my diagnosis has made us appreciate each other so much and we never take anything for granted. 

I now try to do at least one lovely thing every day and I find happiness in places I didn’t before. I have an ‘I get to do…‘ attitude rather than an ‘I have to do…‘ attitude. I get to walk the dogs. I get to go to the shops. I get to make tea. I also get to raise awareness about lung cancer and funds for this amazing charity.

I first found out about Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation – very appropriately – on World Cancer Day. I was desperate to learn more about my type of lung cancer – I’m EGFR+ – so I reached out to the charity. Ellen got back in touch and suggested I join the online support session about mutation-driven lung cancers.

I was a little nervous ahead of the first session but it was lovely. It’s a patient-led group, facilitated by Pam, who is great, and although there is a loose agenda, we invariably end up chatting about issues close to our heart.

We’ve covered all sorts of topics from side effects to worries about treatment, healthy eating and grounding and breathing techniques. We understand each other’s worries and anxieties, and are able to reassure or empathise in a way people who haven’t been affected by lung cancer can’t do.

My diagnosis still takes my breath away some day (not in a symptom kind of way!). I was a 49-year-old primary school teacher who ran, hiked and cycled. I had never smoked and I ate a predominantly plant-based diet with relatively few processed foods. I was low risk for all cancer and especially lung cancer, and yet this is what I am now living with.

But I am living with it – and Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation has helped me see this. I have found the charity’s website to be an invaluable source of information and have been greatly reassured by the patient stories and videos.”

When you hear the words “incurable cancer”, you panic but Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation has given me hope. It has made me realise that I can live a full life with cancer.