By Michelle McMahon
I’m beginning my 6th year of tracking time closer than I had in my 49 previous years. My sojourn began in May 2009 with a small, nagging, non- productive cough. After a few weeks my husband encouraged me to go to the doctor and have it checked out. Initially it presented as pneumonia but after a course of antibiotic therapy with no noted improvement, further testing revealed it to be lung cancer.
I lost my mother to this disease when I was a teenager. She too, a non- smoker, passed away at 52 years of age making my situation both surreal and daunting. I chose a pulmonologist and a surgeon who collaborated with my primary physician, oncologist, my family and me. We worked through 2 surgeries, recoveries, follow ups and a two year long clinical trial for a new application of an oral chemotherapeutic medication. I committed myself to beating this disease.
To help my healing and to help me make sense of this hand I was dealt, with family and friends by my side I started a foundation to raise awareness and funds for lung cancer education, research and treatment. Over the past 5 years we have hosted an annual event which has generated $45,000.00 toward that end. We work hard to improve other’s chances at beating this terrible disease and to bring the white ribbon into focus. Partnering with the Lung Cancer Alliance gives a larger voice to these efforts. I had no control in my having this disease but I’ve certainly acquired some in my fighting it. We’ve seen great gains in the science and treatment of lung cancer and hopefully my contribution and commitment along with the wonderful support I have will play a small role in helping to end this disease or at the very least help ease the suffering of so many. That’s my story in a nutshell. My quick advice: be your own best advocate, don’t be shy about asking questions or for help, keep a positive attitude, surround yourself with humor and remember prayer can be as powerful as any other treatment.
Join Michelle and other survivors to make a difference in Washington, DC at our 7th National Lung Cancer Summit! Click here for more information and to register today!