Serving As An Inspiration To Others
Perez knows all too well the obstacles veterans living in rural areas face. She feels grateful to have Hollings and the VA in Charleston, so close, but knows others dont have that luxury.
It is easier for people in rural areas to fall through the cracks and miss screenings and not be aware of warning signs, she said. The chances of getting treated is slim to none.
She hopes her story changes that along with a new project at Hollings being led by pulmonologist Nichole Tanner, M.D., and oncologist and co-investigator John Wrangle, M.D. Thanks to new funding from the Veterans Affairs VA Lung Precision Oncology Program, Hollings is helping to expand access for lung cancer screenings and improve treatments for veterans living in the Southeast.
Every day, I just feel so grateful to have another day. Even on my worst days, when I cant get out of bed, I feel grateful to be alive. Cancer makes me look at life completely different and appreciate the small things. Caroline Perez
Perez still is receiving maintenance chemotherapy at Hollings. She doesnt know how much time she has left, but she is at peace with her diagnosis and content knowing that she can now help others through their cancer journeys.
I hope my story brings more awareness to cancer and that people need to take their health into their own hands. If people were more aware and knew what to look for, I think more lives could be saved.
What My Typical Day Looks Like
In many ways, it isnât much different than life before my diagnosis. If you ran into me on the street, youâd never know Iâm a stage IV lung cancer survivor. I used to be a fitness instructor, so Iâve always been an exercise enthusiast. I work out almost every day, whether itâs 45 minutes on my Peloton bike or a 45-minute online yoga class.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Iâve pretty much been homebound, as Iâm at high risk of complications from the virus. I keep busy during the day with Zentangle, which is an easy and relaxing way to create images by drawing structured patterns. Someone gave me a class in it as a gift way back when I was doing chemotherapy, and I got hooked. I find it very meditative and calming. I actually just became a certified Zentangle teacher. I hope to begin teaching classes online.
The first couple of years after my diagnosis, I experimented with my diet a lot. I gave up sugar, because I heard that sugar feeds cancer. I went full-on vegan for a bit. Then there was my green juice phase, followed by keto. Finally, I realized that there wasnât a shred of evidence that any of these eating patterns would help me beat NSCLC. Now, my diet motto is simple and easy to follow: everything in moderation.
When all this started, my son Jacob was 11, and my daughter Dina was 8. Before my diagnosis, we were so distracted with our busy lives, we didnât have time for each other. But once I began treatment, that all changed.
For Recently Married James Rocky Lagno Molecularly Targeted Therapy For His Non
James Rocky Lagnos journey with cancer began around Thanksgiving in 2010, when the Epping, N.H., man developed a dry cough that wouldnt go away.
Rocky had never smoked in his life, and none of the physicians he consulted for the cough mentioned cancer.
Finally it got to the point that I had no energy and couldnt catch my breath, Rocky recalls. I went to an urgent-care facility, and they thought it was pneumonia. Then I started coughing up a little blood. I went back to the urgent-care facility, and a doctor there suggested it could be lung cancer.
For Rocky and Geralynn his wife of less than two years the idea of lung cancer was an extreme shock and upsetting. The impact wasnt eased when Rocky went to an oncologist.
The oncologist told me that I should probably think about a bucket list, but also suggested I should get a second opinion, he says.
Rocky and Geralynn did just that and traveled to Boston, where he was put on a regimen of intravenous chemotherapy and an aggressive course of daily radiation for his non-small cell lung cancer. Scans revealed that the standard treatment wasnt shrinking Rockys tumors they were actually getting bigger.
I was told I should get my affairs in order because a patient in that situation has on average about 13 months to live, Rocky recalls.
He tested positive for the mutation.
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Cancer: Stage 4 Breast Cancer
It was a Saturday on March 2012 when Vickie and her husband were sitting with a friend and his wife at a McDonalds outlet in Hong Kong. Shed had a biopsy the day before and was supposed to call the doctor for the preliminary results. The result of the pathology report changed her life forever that instant. Vickie was initially diagnosed with stage 3B breast cancer. Then cancer was detected in every single vertebrae, both sides of the pelvis, and one rib on January 2, 2013. Her diagnosis was changed to stage 4. Then come July 2013, a new lesion formed in the left hip socket, in a couple of ribs, and in the sternum.
Since the diagnosis, Vickie has had eight chemotherapy sessions. She was revised to metastatic and has been to the infusion center almost every month for her Xgeva shot. With new lesions showing up in her spine and left hip socket, her treatment plans had to be changed and she was in a clinical trial in November 2013. The clinical trial combined an established drug with a trial drug, which could lead cancer treatment into a promising new direction. After the progression of the cancer to the liver in 2014, she was put on a new treatment. The lesions in the hip were more active with the tumor markers slowly creeping up since December, which meant time to yet again change treatment plans. In December 2015, the last oral option available to her failed and she was switched over to IV chemotherapy.
Supportive Alternative Cancer Therapies
Larry: Did you ever try any other therapies.
Well I, along with the cesium, I used calcium, magnesium, potassium and I used at times quite a bit of oxygen. That was something that in our research we found that was helpful. For probably 3 or 4 months I also used some DMSO. We learned that pepper was very useful in helping to get rid of cancer cells, so we used that. I mean, we used a little bit of everything. Anything that we came across that said that it you know could kill cancer we probably did try it.
Larry: So how long did you stay on the therapy?
Yes, 16 months.
Larry: So its not a quick fix?
No probably not. I cant speak for other people. It depends on how much cesium you take. How high that you keep your pH. In reading the clinical trial, I found that half of the patients that they were allowed to test to use this protocol on half of them died. And even they thought that it might be because that they went at it a little hard, you know.
Larry: Yeah I think that a lot of the information online about the amount that you should take is completely wrong. I believe you shouldnt take more than 3 grams a day and then sometimes a lot let depending on your body weight.
Yeah. It does make a big difference. Yeah. And over the course of treatment I lost probably 60 pounds.
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Her Continued Mission To De
Along with a dedicated team of providers, Carole attributes much of her longevity and health to her focus on de-stressing and exercise.
Seeing my husband unable to use his hands, legs, and feet, I am inspired and grateful that I have the full use of my arms and legs. Ive come to understand, movement is life itself that along with my treatment, exercise and movement is keeping me feeling well, she says.
As a therapist of 35 years, I have worked with many people who have had illnesses , and if they stop moving their bodies, they get much worse and some pass away, explains Carole. You have to keep moving! I know its not easy, but you cant give in.
While every cancer case is unique, the emotional turmoil is often the same. Carole experienced varying stages of stress along with the varying stages of treatment. Stress was wearing me down and taking away my ability to face my responsibilities and be productive, not just for myself, but everyone around me, remembers Carole. Well-meaning people can say things to try to give you hope, but the real hope comes from within. You have to find that place within you that says, You can do this.
Though Carole is living her best life, there are still days when even she needs a good reminder to not sweat the small stuff. Dr. Lamon has been responsible for me not worrying myself to death. He doesnt allow me to do that and will call me on it if I begin to worry excessively. Im so thankful hes my doctor.
Husband Stage 4 Lung Cancer
Hi everyone, it’s taken me a long time to write, first of all can I say that after reading some of the posts on here it made me realise I’m not alone in my nightmare. My beautiful Husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in January this year, after what the consultant thought was just a bad infection, prior to this we were super fit and healthy. He is 52, I’m 49 and we are each others world. How did this happen to us. We are slowly learning to live the “cancer” life, it comsumes every day doesn’t it, but we also try to make the best of our good days, last weekend we were at a 80s festival, but the come down from the good times is so bad for him and me. I’m so very scared about not having him by my side, I want answers now but then again I don’t. Some days he looks great, like nothing is wrong, others I worry he’s going downhill. We are just into the last session of 7 months of chemo and I think the plan is to switich to immuno, so far so good, but we know that could change at any moment. Talk about having to face your worse fears before you really ever wanted to. Sorry if not making much sense, so much goes on in my mind.
Welcome to Cancer Chat, although I’m sure that you would rather be anywhere else but here.
I sincerely hope that the immuno therapy works well for him. You are both in my thoughts and in my prayers.
Please keep in touch. There is always someone here whenever either of you feel like talking.
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Cancer: Metastasized Abdominal Sarcoma
Denise lives in Hawaii and when her cancer was diagnosed, she was told they couldnt do anything for her and had given her only a month or two to live. Shed lost all hope. She was told she might get help from another doctor on the mainland. Denise got sick while on vacation in Los Angeles, and ended up in the hospital in Huntington Beach. She was in the hospital for five days, and then Dr. Chawla entered into Denises life.
For Denise, it was meant to be. Dr. Chawla said to Denise, I think I can help you. For Denise, these were the key words for survival. After that, she just eased her mind and put herself into Dr. Chawlas hands, and she is still here. Its all meant to be. Denise was in remission for six years, and now she is currently on clinical trial with a new drug.
Stage 4 Cancer Survivor
Larry: Well hey I really appreciate you sharing your story and everything and I hope that you stay cancer free the rest of your life.
Ah me too. And if it happens to come back I know how to deal with it!
Larry: Okay dear. Well thank-you very much for your interview and thank-you for letting me share it with others. Okay?
Larry: Alright you take care and you have a great day.
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Coming To Grips With Terminal Cancer
Life was good for Perez following her time in the Army. She and her husband had five children, three girls and two boys, and now have 11 grandchildren. Perez enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom, even if it meant money was tight. But life as she knew it forever changed Labor Day weekend in 2016.
I had been feeling sick for a while. I thought I had a kidney infection and tried to treat it myself, she said. Eventually I went to my primary care doctor at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. He wanted to do a scan to make sure I didnt have kidney stones. Thats when they found something that didnt look right and referred me for more testing.
Further testing revealed what no one can truly prepare for Perez was diagnosed with stage 3 non-small cell lung cancer that had already spread to her lymph nodes. She underwent surgery at the at the VA Medical Center, followed by months of chemotherapy and radiation at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center.
After treatment, I just tried to heal and put my life back together, Perez said. Even after treatment, I was still coming in to have scans and blood work done every few weeks.
During her treatment at Hollings, Perezs oncologist Carol Sherman, M.D., told her about a clinical trial being offered, testing a drug called Alectinib that showed promising results for some lung cancer patients. However, due to a heart condition called long QT syndrome, Perez was disqualified from participating.
Living With Stage 4 Lung Cancer
I was diagnosed with cancer at age 39, and I just celebrated my 44th birthday in September. We thank God every day for my medical team, support team, our community, and, of course, my targeted treatments. We are so grateful I was able to take that first step and get a comprehensive genomic test. I will likely gain resistance to the medication over time, but for now, Im clear, and weve learned to live life 90 days at a time between my scans.
We dont really have 5- or 10-year goals anymore. Of course, we talk long-term a little bit, and were hopeful for the future, but even planning next summers vacation is a big step for us. I say that I dont want my cancer to define me, but it is a part of me. Throughout this crazy journey, its been helpful to stay positive, thank God for our blessings, continue to make family memories, and not sweat the small stuff.
If I were to share some final words of wisdom to anyone just starting their cancer journey, Id say that its okay to have a moment. My days are not always great. If I have a bad day, I give myself 24 hours to be sad, letting my mind go there. But the next day, I make myself celebrate something. Weve celebrated Sister Day and National Dog Day and all these little things. I always try to find something to celebrate.
The author has no relationships relevant to this content to disclose.
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Im Living With Stage Iv Lung Cancer But More Importantly Im Living My Life
At Disney World a week ago, as I was boarding a ride, I observed a sign that suggested that only those in good health should ride the ride.
Am I am in good health? Technically not. I have stage IV lung cancer. My condition is terminal. Thats not good health, and so, according to the sign, I shouldnt have ridden the ride. But I did.
Ive learned a lot about lung cancer since I was first diagnosed in the winter of 2015. Ive learned that people can get lung cancer even if they have no risk factors. Ive learned that you do not usually have symptoms of lung cancer until you are at an advanced stage. Ive learned that most of the people who get lung cancer are diagnosed with stage III or stage IV disease. Ive learned that the survival statistics, due to the chronic underfunding of research, are horrendous.
Ive realized that so much of what I thought I knew about lung cancer is inaccurate. For instance, I thought I knew what lung cancer looked like: It was a sick person, an older person, somebody on oxygen . It was somebody wheezing, coughing, ashen, and dying.
Thats not how I look. Thats not who I am.
Im a healthy looking woman, only 42 years old. Im the mother of two small boys. Im a practicing partner of a national law firm. Im a lung cancer activist, working to improve the funding, treatment options, and the health outcomes for people like me people who get blindsided by lung cancer.
But, right now, Im here. Ill fight this disease today because I have today.
Christy’s Story: Remaining Positive Through Four Cancer Diagnoses
- LUNG FORCE & Cancer
My story is a testament that love is everything, prayers are answered, and miracles do happen.
In 2006, I didnt feel well. I was really tired, had shortness of breath, chest pain, back pain, a constant, wheezing cough. I would later discover these are five symptoms of lung cancer. I always did small things to stay in shape, but after walking up a flight of stairs and not being able to breathe, I decided it was time to go to the doctor.
My primary care physician checked my heart, my spine and tested me for asthma. She said everything looked normal, to take Prilosec for 30 days, and schedule a follow-up visit. That was on a Tuesday. That Friday, I received a call that the X-ray technician had found several spots on my lungs.
At the time, I was only 38. Id never smoked a day in my life, Id been a lifetime athlete, attending college on a basketball and track scholarship, and we didnt have any cancer history in my family.
In September 2006, after three months of testing in five different hospitals, I received a call from my doctor that he wanted me to come in to go over my test results. So, my husband Rich, my family and I met at the doctors office. The doctor shared that he and his team reviewed the results and that it was stage IV lung cancer. Everyone in the room began to cry.
I ran the Lake of the Ozarks 10K. As I approached the third mile, I looked over at the incredible water and then up at the sky and thanked God for the wonder of it all.
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