By Jenn Ryan
Last spring, after a long bike ride I coughed and a teeny tiny piece of blood came up. I knew this was not normal so I went to the doctor and had a chest x-ray. It revealed a mass on my left lung. That same day I had a CT scan and received the news no one should ever hear.
In one week, I went through Gamma Knife for 14 brain lesions on a Wednesday, started carboplatin and Alimta on a Friday and left for a wonderful vacation with my family that Saturday.
My name is Jennifer Ryan and I am a 40 year old lung cancer survivor. I was diagnosed in May of 2015 with stage IV NSCLC. I am a mother of four beautiful children and a music teacher to 500 kiddos in the Springfield public schools.
Since my diagnosis, I have focused solely on my family. It is all about my four children and giving them as many days as I can. We laugh more, play more and let all the little things go now. My 15 year old daughter is my medical partner. She helps me through every treatment, from sitting with me while it drips to helping with our little kids when I am exhausted.
I gain strength from my husband, children and greater community. Our local football program has raised more than $14,000 to help cover medical bills. I live in a great town that cares when one of their own is down.
My advice for those on, or just starting, their lung cancer journey: Stay active! Running after four children and taking care of my husband keeps me focused and positive. Don’t read the statistics. Insist on genetic testing and get a second opinion. Any day could be your last, cancer or not.