“It’s a strange thing to say but the last two years have been fantastic. That’s probably not what people are expecting to hear!”
It’s safe to say Kathy wasn’t expecting to feel like that either when she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2013. Initially given 6-8 months, five years on and Kathy is still enjoying a good, quality life.
“I thought straightaway – that’s it! And when I saw the prognosis, I wasn’t surprised because that’s what I thought would happen – that it was a death sentence.
My big worry was the people I was leaving behind; my husband, Richard, who was going to look after Richard? Then I started thinking about the things I hadn’t done, the places I hadn’t seen.
It took me probably 12-18 months to realise how lucky I was and change my mindset back again to a positive way. It didn’t happen overnight. And fear. Obviously, nobody wants to die, do they? We know it’s going to come eventually but you hope you have a bit longer than 56 and here I am, going 61!
I always say now that I was diagnosed at the right time; two years before I probably wouldn’t be here. I know my lung cancer isn’t curable but that doesn’t mean it isn’t treatable. It doesn’t mean it isn’t liveable. It is, trust me!Kathy, living with lung cancer
There are now lots of treatment options available for people with lung cancer and they are coming thick and fast. It’s why I am still here, five years on. It’s why I can still drive, go on holiday and play the joker – I’m very proud of my quick retort mechanism! It’s why I have no pain, why I don’t look like I have cancer and it’s why I certainly don’t act like I have cancer!
I know the current drug I am on will eventually stop working and whilst that’s scary, I also know new treatments are there and new developments are coming thick and fast. I may be able to have immunotherapy, or even a combination of drugs.
But I only know all this because I became my own advocate and that is the most important piece of advice I would give to anyone who has been diagnosed with lung cancer. I now spend a lot of my life supporting others who don’t know where to turn. I research drugs, different radiation so folk are armed with information, as well as confidence and hope, when they go to their next appointment.
So the minute you don’t feel well, have a symptom or two, get yourself to the GP. You never want to hear what they’re going to tell us but there’s options now. There’s medication out there. There’s ways of keeping yourself alive for longer and healthy. And good quality life. Nobody wants to be sitting in a chair, do they?! We want to be out and about doing.
It’s not easy. It’s not easy watching the people that you love going through the grief that they’re going through but I’m not scared anymore.”