I Thought I Was Invincible

 

Roberta Willet_6.29.16

Roberta and her dog, Gracie.

By Roberta Willet

I have been a registered nurse for 30 years.  In those 30 years, I was exposed to every disease under the sun and never got sick.  I really thought I was invincible.

Four years ago, my husband and I were days away from moving from New York to a new home in New Jersey. I decided to get my annual doctor’s visit out of the way before the chaos of the move kicked in. I had a slight pain near my waist whenever I plugged something in, nothing major, but decided to address it with my doctor during that visit.

My doctor, who was also my employer, suggested an x-ray just to play it safe. The x-ray led to a CT scan which, to my shock and surprise, showed five nodules spread through my upper right lung. While still processing this news, a biopsy was scheduled and performed, resulting in a longer hospital stay due to my lung collapsing!

Because of the move, that could not be rescheduled, my husband and I ended up staying with friends in New York while going through this very scary process. We were still pinching ourselves…”Did that really happen?” “How it this possible?”

Roberta and her husband.

Roberta and her husband.

After going through six weeks of tests, reading frightening statistics and preparing myself for a short six months left of life, my uncle, a retired physician, suggested I go to a hospital in Philadelphia. The process was amazing, quickly organizing consultations with every doctor, nurse, physical therapist, nutritionist, naturopathic specialist they had employed.  A plan of action was designed for me and in less than a week I started chemotherapy.

I had an entire team fighting this battle with me.  After 18 chemo treatments (three weeks on and one week off) another scan revealed one small spot still on my lung. All five tumors otherwise were gone!

Cancer does not have to be a death sentence but you must take responsibility for your health.  You must be your own advocate, be partners with your medical team.  Ask lots of questions and do anything and everything you can to help your body defend itself against this horrible invasion.  Eat correctly, sleep well, and be physically active.  One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to think positive….. be optimistic.

I just celebrated my four years survival anniversary!  I am living a full life, I feel great.

 

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