Cautiously Optimistic

Isabel Vincenty

Isabel (far right) with her daughter and husband.

By Isabel Vincenty

It’s been just over a year since the most devastating news of my life.

We were on the eve of a Hawaiian vacation when I felt a pain in my hip. I hoped that quick trip to the orthopedist for a cortisone shot would have me ready for my upcoming hikes and activities.

After a stint of back and forth X-rays, biopsies, and multiple doctor’s visits, we were finally informed of the diagnosis. It turned out that the pain in my hip was being caused by a tumor – one of three to be exact. Three alien infestations in my body that all pointed to Stage IV Metastatic Lung Cancer.

The devastation of hearing those words and trying to comprehend what they meant is indescribable. Overwhelmed by the news, I remember having an out of body experience as the oncologist explained the diagnosis and grim prognosis to me and my family.

It had to be a mistake. I’d never smoked a day in my life and up to that day (and continuing to today), have never had any symptoms that would have been indicative of something so damaging taking hold of my body. I, along with so many others, considered lung cancer to be a self inflicted illness, caused only by years of inhaling poison.

In my scramble for answers, I lived with a few weeks of mortifying internet dives expecting the worst, while I waited (very impatiently) for my doctor to continue to run tests. We finally received our first sign of optimistic news and a concrete direction for treatment. Through genetic testing, it was revealed that my cancer was caused by the EFGR gene mutation, which allowed for a much more targeted therapy specific to this mutation.

One year after being told I had a two year life expectancy, I find myself among the positive side of the Tarceva statistics. All of the satellite tumors in my bones have disappeared and the primary hub in my lung has continued to reduce in size as a result of Tarceva. My last trip to the oncologist revealed, through a PET scan, that he was ready to start radiation to eliminate what’s left of the initial lung tumor with hopes of NED (no evidence of disease) status after the treatment. I have started very intense radiation and am so hopeful for a successful outcome.

To this day, I remain cautiously optimistic. I chose not to think of myself as a cancer patient and have not let many in my life be privy to the news. I have found solace in the stories that I’ve read here, and hope that my own experience can bring education and encouragement to others seeking answers.

 

If you have questions or need support along your lung cancer journey, call us at 1-800-298-2436 or email support@lungcanceralliance.org.