Jackie has been living with terminal lung cancer for the last three years. She was diagnosed when her and her partner were trying for a baby.
“I know what you’re thinking… She doesn’t look like she’s got lung cancer. You’re right – I look pretty good, even if I do say so myself! But looks can be deceiving.
In April 2014, at the age of 44, I was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. My diagnosis came completely out of the blue – I’d be living a relatively healthy life, exercising regularly, eating well. I needed to be in good shape; we were trying to have a baby.
But that wasn’t to be. Instead scans found lung cancer, widespread lung cancer, terminal lung cancer. I had metastasis in my bones, brain, left adrenal gland and a small but active primary tumour in my left lung. I wasn’t going to have a life growing inside me. Chances were, I wasn’t going to live long myself.
I was suddenly cast into a new world of strange words and many unknowns which was extremely difficult for me. I was from a world of precision and known outcomes. The future, that few months earlier had been full of hope and promise, now had lots and lots of questions. And I was very frightened.”
That was me three years ago and, contrary to my original expectations, I’m still here.
I’m currently on my sixth line of treatment. I’m fortunate (yes, fortunate) that my first biopsy was EGFR positive. This meant I could be treated with Tarceva, a first generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI). Since then, I’ve also had 13 cycles of chemotherapy, suffering from kidney failure as a result and also a pulmonary embolism.
I tried immunotherapy but it didn’t work for me and I had radiotherapy five times.
“Life might look a little different, a lot different, from what we were planning on three years ago but, believe it or not, I am happier within myself now than I have ever been. I live life day by day. I don’t plan for the future but I do try to make every effort to enjoy what time I have left.”
Jackie is concentrating on being happy, rather than being scared
I’m currently on Tagrisso (osimertinib), a third generation TKI. Without it, it’s unlikely I’d be stood here today. I don’t know what happens if, when, this drug stops working as there is not yet a fourth generation TKI.”
We are family
You’re probably wondering where I find the strength to live with my diagnosis. For me, I find listening and talking to others a good coping mechanism. I have found help in online forums where patients share and compare notes and have made several good friends here and abroad through these communities.
Life might look a little different, a lot different, from what we were planning on three years ago but, believe it or not, I am happier within myself now than I have ever been. I live life day by day. I don’t plan for the future but I do try to make every effort to enjoy what time I have left.
I have no control over what happens next. That might sound like a scary prospect but I’m trying my very hardest not to worry about something I cannot do anything about. I can just hope that treatment continues to develop and advance… and does so quicker than my cancer.”