I am here because of research. Clinical trials saved my life and continue to work miracles. I was originally diagnosed in 2009, at the age of 30 with stage 3A Adenocarcinoma and immediately entered into Chemo/Radiation and would await surgery to remove the cancerous lobe, afterwards receiving adjuvant chemo. I wrapped up treatment on December 24, 2009.
After that I began to piece my life together again. I returned to work as a teacher and proceeded to rebuild my life. In May of 2011, I suffered a recurrence. At the time, the only actionable mutation was EGFR and I tested negative, because I had already received radiation, that wasn’t an option anymore. Due to the nature of the disease, surgery also wasn’t viable. So a “wait and watch” approach was taken, much to my chagrin. I knew if I didn’t act soon, my time would be limited, I didn’t want to die at 32.
I decided to take the trip of a lifetime, but before going, I happened upon an article talking about a new drug in trial giving patients months more. Hope! I immediately requested more information, so before I left, my tumor was sent to Cleveland to be tested. When I returned I came back an ALKie. I entered into the trial and randomized to the drug group. At that time, I knew nothing about driver mutations, TKIs, immunotherapy, or clinical trials, now they are a part of my everyday. I had almost 5 years on Crizotinib and in that time, I built a life. I have traveled extensively, pushed my boundaries by learning to white water kayak and surf, and I became an active advocate and public speaker. I bought my first car, and my first house, met and married my best friend, and have become a mentor and peer supporter to both young adults with cancer and those with lung cancer. In June of 2016, I again had progression and had to change drugs, so I am now again in a trial for a new, new drug. I am hopeful that it will give me more time because there is still so much work to do.