kimberly-buchmeier_holding-survivor-signI had been experiencing back pain for several months. In a 6 months span, I had been to a spine specialist, a hip specialist, and my general practitioner. I was sent away from each appointment with no answer for the pain. I was referred to another spine specialist that ordered an MRI of my back. I will never forget that phone call. It was a Monday morning at 8:04 am. I was pretty sure I heard wrong when the doctor told me there was a mass on the right lower lobe of my lung. How could my back pain be from a mass on my lung?

He had already spoken with my general practitioner and I was expected to get to his office as soon as possible. I had an x-ray of my lung, and although, I wasn’t sick and did not have any signs of pneumonia, I was given antibiotics and told to come back in a week for another x-ray. My general practitioner warned me of the worst case scenario…lung cancer. I took the antibiotic and prayed all week that I had pneumonia. I am pretty sure I even convinced myself it was pneumonia willing my body to cough and be achy. I just wanted to be sick. I did NOT believe I could have lung cancer. I was a young, healthy non-smoker with no family history of lung cancer.

Exactly one week later my worst fears became a reality and, at age 37, I was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer adenocarcinoma. The next month consisted of blood panels, MRI’s, PET scan, needle biopsy, and discussions with a thoracic surgeon and oncologist. On March 17, 2011, I had the lower right lobe of my lung removed. I was given 6 weeks of recovery and then started a 4-month stint of chemotherapy. 5 years later I am still cancer free!

Having lung cancer completely changed my life. I have had the fear of re-occurrence rear its ugly head several times. I have lost several special people I have met through my lung cancer community, including my own grandmother who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013 and past away just last September. I have stormed Capitol Hill fighting for more research dollars to find a cure for this ugly disease. I have made life-long friends who are also lung cancer survivors.kimberly-buchmeier_self_hr

Nobody deserves lung cancer! I join the mission to change the face of lung cancer!