Community nurse, Debbie Platts, was preparing to undergo IVF in April 2018 when she was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer. She shares her story as part of our LikeMe campaign, an awareness initiative which aims to challenge the misconceptions around lung cancer.
“When I was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer, I felt sick. It was like I had just been given a death sentence at just 43 years old. I was terrified and devastated. I love my life and I am definitely not ready for it to be over anytime soon.
I have three daughters – they are 16, 21 and 23 – and all I could think of was “Who is going to be there to guide and advise them?” I raised them on my own and, while my husband is an incredible step dad and would do everything he could for them, ultimately, they aren’t his responsibility.
Route to diagnosis
I had been suffering from raging back pain and been back and forth to my GP over a period of 8 weeks. I saw various doctors on a weekly basis. Some weeks the pain was so bad I was making two appointments a week.
They all dismissed my symptom as muscular, even though it could not be managed with any pain relief. None of them even considered lung cancer. They did not think outside the box. They were all of the opinion that I was young and healthy, so it had to be muscular.
In the end, two days after my latest appointment, I took myself to A&E. It was only then that I was referred for the right tests and finally found out what was behind the pain – stage 4 lung cancer.
I’ve never really thought, why me? In fact, why not me? What makes me any different to the next person?Debbie was just 43 when she was diagnosed
Why has this happened?
I have no idea what has caused my lung cancer. I’ve since learnt a bit more about lung cancer and I now know the type of lung cancer I have (I’m EGFR+) tends to occur more in younger women. So, I’ve never really thought, why me? In fact, why not me? What makes me any different to the next person?
I am very open about my diagnosis and tell people I have lung cancer. I do find myself telling people that I’ve never smoked though. If I don’t, it’s usually the first question they ask. I think people need to have a reason to explain why bad things happen.
Living with lung cancer
When I was first diagnosed, I began on the targeted therapy, gefitinib. Unfortunately, as is the nature with these kinds of treatments, it has now stopped working and I’m now on conventional chemotherapy. Chemo is tough to take but at least I still have a treatment option available.
I’m still scared that I will die much earlier than I ever imagined. The thought of not being around for my family breaks my heart. But I try to put those fears to one side. I am still alive today and I’m going to make the most of it.”