Canadian Lung Association Blog

My Experience With Lung Cancer – Part 5: Lung Cancer Awareness

[See previous blogs – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4]picture of Terry

I haven’t written a blog since the summer.  I am not sure why – I think it is because I wasn’t sure what else I could say that would be helpful or interesting.

The summer was difficult. I had several complications from the cancer – phlebitis, pneumonia, pneumonitis – and they all took a long time to resolve. But the most difficult event was learning at the end of July that the cancer was continuing to spread despite the drug I was on.  Since then I have started a newer drug, called ceritinib, which I hope will slow the spread of the disease. It is supposed to be very effective, but it has several gastro-intestinal side effects.

It is a challenge for me to understand how to live my life when I have such a serious disease.  Most days, I feel pretty well, and I am tempted to live as “normal” a life as possible, meaning as close to my previous life as possible.  Inevitably, I push myself too much, and then I get sick again. I think I am finally learning that there is a new normal, which means I have to set limits on what I do each day.  It has taken a long time to learn how to listen to what my body is telling me – whether it is time to rest, to look for comfort from friends and family, or to push myself a little. As I am writing this, I realize that these are the kinds of lessons I should have taught myself years ago.

Then, of course, I can’t help having moments when I try to understand why all this is happening. I have met several people who have looked towards spirituality to help them understand what is occurring in their lives. I am not sure that I understand what spirituality really means, and for someone who has never been at all religious, it is hard to suddenly bring that into my life. I am somewhat envious of those whose spiritual soul have been a source of strength, and realize how I allowed myself to ignore most aspects of my life outside work. Another lesson I should have learned earlier in my life….

November is Lung Cancer Awareness month – but there doesn’t seem to be very much awareness occurring. Lung Cancer Canada released a statement and a colleague and I have contacted our local media to try to get some coverage. Despite all our efforts however, the association with smoking seems to have created a stigma that won’t go away. And because the outcome of patients with lung cancer is so dismal, there are few long-term survivors to lead a charge towards compassion, new treatments and better research funding.

My colleague is very anxious to further awareness and funding for lung cancer and that has given both of us a sense that perhaps we can contribute a little to reducing the burden of this illness.  We will see where that will lead.

[Continued in Part 6]

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4 comments on “My Experience With Lung Cancer – Part 5: Lung Cancer Awareness
  1. Lucero Hernandez says:

    Dear Terry,

    Your words are music to my ears. You are doing well and in addition you are talking about listening to the body and spirituality!!. There is not a better time to learn about these things. It is about learning it, that is all.
    I still remember our conversations about how important it is to feel good “under our skin” and connecting body and soul. Spirituality by itself cannot give you strength, it is the connection with yourself that can keep you going.
    The moments we take to be greatful, it is spirituality. And I am very grateful to be with you sharing this journey.

  2. anne fanning says:

    Dear Terry:
    I was delighted to get Brians note about this blog. Glad to hear that the new drug seems to be working .
    i am so impressed with your straight forward writing. i think all of us learn from that.It is hard to feel less than in charge of life, and i need to learn to let go, so your experience inspires.
    I think often of the great work you and Lucero did in Equador, I have heard that government there is working better i hope the TB program too.
    I am still stirring the pots and writing letters to the editor, and mucking with boards, and admiring the committed young folk.
    we are in good hands.
    best to you and think of you often

  3. Deirdre Freiheit says:

    Hi Terry,

    Thanks to Brian, I am also keeping up with your blog. I admire your strength and your desire to raise awareness about lung cancer. You are an inspiration. My tboughts are with you.


  4. Judyth Vaca says:

    Dear Terry.
    To me when you sharing with us your sadness and happyness, that´s spirituality.
    Greetings from Ecuador.

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