The week before I turned 40, my husband and I took a one-way flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong – eager for new adventures.

A month later, I was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that had spread to the brain, eye and over a dozen lymph nodes in my chest. Quickly thereafter it spread to my liver, abdomen and further into my brain. As a relatively young non-smoker with no family history of the disease, this was a bit of a surprise. On the other hand, I knew there had been something not right with my body, but it was lost under layers of stress.

They say cancer is a messenger, and I finally got the message. My diagnosis was the excuse I needed to finally prioritize myself and my health. In the course of the year that followed, I discovered dietary changes, yoga, meditation and other healing practices that led to 50 pounds of therapeutic fat loss, a stronger relationship with my husband, a deeper connection between my mind and body and a sincere appreciation for every moment.

I’m incredibly fortunate that my cancer harbored the ROS1+ mutation and could be targeted with just-released TKIs (crizotinib and lorlatinib in my case). Two rounds of stereotactic radio-surgery addressed my four brain tumors with minimal hair loss. Being “inoperable,” I never had to endure surgery past the needle biopsy. In fact, with fasting and other complementary support, I’ve suffered minimal side effects overall and continued working full time while putting my husband through school.

One year later, shortly after joining the Care Oncology Clinic Trial and adding their metabolic protocol to my TKI treatment, I received my first scans showing complete remission.

Thanks to my terminal cancer diagnosis, I’m in the best health of my life – physically, mentally and spiritually. However long this lasts I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. My life before cancer was spent in a daze of stress, resentment and petty frustrations. After this wake-up call, I’m able to fully experience and prioritize what is really important.

No surgeries, minimal hair loss, minimal side effects thanks to complementary support: advancements in lung cancer treatment have come so far. Whereas I originally expected to live only months, I have years of full life ahead of me.

The dire-sounding statistics of cancer survivorship are out-dated and no longer apply given the rapid advancements in treatment. And in my case at least, the message cancer delivered – to prioritize the things that are truly important – has made my life richer than I ever hoped.