IT specialist, Peter rarely got ill until 2018 when he began with repeat chest infections and was diagnosed with pneumonia. However, when Peter’s symptoms got worse and he found himself short of breath doing every day task, he knew something wasn’t right and went for another x-ray. Peter’s instinct was right – there was something wrong. He had stage 4 lung cancer.
“I first noticed a change in my health back in 2018. I was getting chest infections and my doctor treated with antibiotics. After a couple of weeks, I wasn’t getting any better, so I went for an x-ray and diagnosed with pneumonia.
I was told it could take up to three months to get better, but weeks went by and I was feeling worse. I was starting to get out of breath doing the simplest of tasks. I went back to the doctor and I was given more antibiotics. But again, they didn’t help so I went to my local walk-in centre in Portsmouth where I had a follow up x-ray and was then taken to A&E.
I remember waiting for the results, hoping for an answer. The doctors told me there was something that didn’t look quite right. I was sent for more tests and the following morning, I was told there was a high chance I had lung cancer.
They took fluid from my lungs for testing and within a week it was confirmed that I had stage 4 adenocarcinoma lung cancer.’
Not long after my diagnosis treatment began, the doctors took a tissue biopsy from my lung and a few weeks later they found I had the EGFR mutation. I then went on to receive the targeted therapy, Osimertinib. I was lucky to get this through health insurance as it wasn’t available on the NHS at the time of my diagnosis.’
Scanxiety and treatment effects
Osimertinib has helped manage my lung cancer and I’ve been lucky throughout the treatment. There are a lot of side effects with the drugs but so far, none have been debilitating. My side effects range from mouth and nose sores, headaches, folliculitis, ingrown toenails and some stomach issues. I’m sure there are others, general aches and pains but I don’t let that get to me too much.
Treatment comes with many side effects but I’m lucky. They haven’t impacted on how I live my life and Osimertinib makes my lung cancer stable, making living with lung cancer more manageable than I expected.
The only thing that does affect me is scanxiety before my scans. It’s the worry of the unknown, of how my body is responding to treatment vs what my cancer is doing but I’ve come up with techniques to put my scanxiety at ease. I meditate and concentrate on the other things, the more positive things, that are going on in my life. Of course, this is much easier said than done!’
Getting the support I need
Throughout my lung cancer journey I’ve had fantastic support from my family and friends who rallied around me. It can even be as little as going for a coffee with me, but just knowing that people are there for you is a tremendous help.
I couldn’t have done it without the support from my immediate family, they’ve been with me every step of the way.
Support hasn’t just come from those closest to me. I’ve had great support from Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation too.
It was the first place I went to after my diagnosis, and I regularly check in on the forums. I find them useful to keep up to date with new procedures and treatments, and also to find out how others are coping. Sometimes I even post myself when I feel I can offer help to those going through treatment or living with lung cancer.
Having that support has meant I can continue to enjoy doing the things I love like photography, cooking reading and travelling. The pandemic halted all those a little but I’m still carrying on trying to enjoy my life each day.”