I have WHAT?

11 years ago I managed to experience the three biggest life stressors…..moving (from Pennsylvania to Florida), changing jobs and being diagnosed with a devastating illness all within a 1 month time frame.  You see, I was required to have a physical for my new teaching job and BAM, the next thing I knew I was sitting in a doctor’s office with my sister in law being scheduled for a lung resection.  My head was still spinning from hearing the words “You have lung cancer” and all I was hearing was “blah, blah, blah cancer….  blah,  blah, blah operation”.  I remember saying “How can I have lung cancer?  I don’t smoke”.  I’ve learned a lot since then.  The bottom line is that ANYONE can get lung cancer.  ANYONE!

My purpose of starting this blog is to give others hope because I thought I was going to die 11 years ago and I didn’t.  This journey has been filled with many twists and turns and ups and downs, but I’m still here.  I was NED (no evidence of disease) after the initial lung resection and a course of a chemo cocktail, but 3 1/2 years later, cancer reared it’s ugly head when it decided to take up residence in my liver (17 tumors) at which time I officially became a stage 4 patient. I asked my doctor how long do I have?  He said “3 to 5 years”.  He was wrong.

Throughout those years, I soldiered on, continuing to teach orchestra and chorus to middle school students.  I was fortunate to have wonderful support from my school administration and staff who made sure I had food and a clean house among other thoughtful things.  My principal even arranged my teaching schedule to accommodate my treatments.

So, I have been living with stage 4 lung cancer for quite a while now and will continue to do so.

Till next time, remember that someday is now!



15 thoughts on “I have WHAT?”

  1. my husband just passed Sunday from stage 4 sclc, found spot on liver and was starting new targeted chemo on Monday, still confused, not sure what happened within 2 days ??


  2. Your such an inspiration for me. I also have stage 4 lung cancer and I also asked the same question. How can I have lung cancer I don’t smoke? I was diagnosed 18 months ago and if there is a positive in this it is that I have the Alk mutation. I’m able to take targeted medication by mouth and it has given me a very good quality of life! Thank you for posting your story!


    1. Hi Merita, I also was diagnosed 2 1/2 years ago with the ALK mutation. I have been on Xalkori and the tumors are not growing. That’s the best we can ask for. It’s nice to see that someone else has this mutation. Well, not nice but to know I’m not alone. Please keep me posted on how you are doing and I will do the same. Pam


  3. You have always been an incredible, tough, resilient person Missy- with a great sense of humor… This is awesome that you are bogging! You are a wealth of information and resource. You will be a light, a brightly burning beacon in the dark for others and so much more than others can maybe really ever say- you WILL make a difference in others lives, beyond your family and the thousands of kids you have taught. God Bless you sister in law ❤️


  4. What a lovely picture of you! Couldn’t be cuter. Your Lung Cancer journey is a shining beacon for many of us who also fight “The Beast”. I love that you have put down the idea that any doctor could tell you when you might expire. Doctor’s don’t know – and the will and positive attitude go a long way in this situation. Wonderful Blog, please tell more details so many others can learn from your experiences. xoxo, g


    1. Thank you Gail. I’ve been feeling the need to put my story out there and I finally got up the courage to do it. The hardest thing is getting started. I have a list of things I’m going to address in future blogs.


  5. Hi Melissa, just came across your blog, as I was searching for stage 4 lung cancer survivors. Thank you for sharing, as it gives me hope. I was just recently diagnosed with stage 4 at the age 35 (non smoker); doing WBR now and starting clinical trial in 2 weeks. Looking forward to your future posts. I asked my oncologists not to give me an expiry date. 😉 Take care. Dani


    1. I wish you well with your clinical trials. I believe that’s the reason I’m still here…..because of those trials. I also hope that you have had genomic testing to see if you have one of the known mutations. If so, that can be helpful in deciding what treatments may work. None of us have an expiration date!! I surpassed mine 6 years ago.


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