Yes, I, a stage IV lung cancer patient, bought a house. You see, I decided long ago that I was going to live with cancer and not wait around to die from it, so I bought a house. Lately, our lung cancer community has been hit hard and I want people to know that some of us are still doing well so please don’t give up hope. It hits us hard when we lose someone, especially young women with young children and this has been happening way too frequently. Why I’m doing so well is a mystery to me. I came close to death twice during my 13 year (and counting) journey, so I’ve been through the lowest of lows too. I just managed to somehow survive.
The drug that is holding my cancer at bay these days is Loxo-292. It doesn’t have a name yet because it’s so new. My lung cancer is being driven by the RET mutation and this drug is designed to target and reverse the mutation which will stop the mutation from happening, thus stopping the cancer in it’s tracks.
I have seen and experienced numerous treatments these past 13 years. I started with conventional IV Chemotherapy, then various targeted therapies, then immunotherapy and back to a targeted therapy…the first one designed for the RET mutation. During these years, I enjoyed good times and endured some really bad times. I was able to function well with the chemotherapies. I even continued to teach school. I’d get treatment on a Thursday, be down and out Saturday and Sunday and then go to work on Monday. Three weeks later it was time to do it all again. I had a very supportive principal which made things so much better. Then research started developing targeted therapies. Most of the early targeted treatments came with an abundance of horrid side effects which greatly affected my quality of life. I spent quite a lot of time in bed and if I did venture out I had to deal with blurry vision and weakness among other things. My depth perception was off and resulted in a couple of fender benders as I was backing out of parking spaces at the grocery store. All I wanted was to feel “normal”, but it just wasn’t safe to go anywhere and I didn’t feel well enough anyway. During those times I can honestly say that I didn’t care if I lived or died and actually wanted to die a few times.
I began this latest treatment, the clinical trial, in July and I feel great!! My quality of life is good and I’ve been enjoying decorating my house. I can run errands and go shopping with energy to spare. The horrific side effects of those early targeted treatments are in the rear view mirror and as I said, I’m feeling great! I also am experiencing a good response to the Loxo with some tumors shrinking. The target tumor has shrunk almost 50% since July! There’s some weird stuff going on though. Something is growing and some tumors have stayed stable, but I feel good and that makes all the difference in the world!!