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Meet Lianne63...

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Happy New Year! 2023 is upon us and it is once again time to meet another member. Meet Lianne63, who along with having a fabulous name, was diagnosed with lung cancer and shares her story.

Hi, in June of 2021, I was lucky enough to finally get a family doctor after 8 years without one.  At 57 yrs old, a lot of diagnostic testing had been missed. My doctor decided to remedy that, starting with mammogram and colon cancer screening.  Both those initial screenings came back with more testing required which I did. As it turned out, there was no real cause for concern, but I did get set up with annual colonoscopies to monitor my diverticulosis.
In April of 2022, the doctor put me in the BC Lung Cancer screening program due to my family history of lung cancer and my own smoking history.  On April 29th, I had a low dose chest CT scan through the program.  That scan showed a 1.3 cm mass on my left lung. Small, but concerning.  It would be 4 months before I would get an actual diagnosis. I didn’t tell any of my family what was going on because I didn’t want to worry them unnecessarily.  I finally told my husband in July as I had to explain why I needed a PET scan (and what it was). My husband is a wonderful support, but he is terrible with medical things and has a significant distaste/fear of doctors and hospitals.
Diagnosis was Stage 3A lung cancer, all contained within the left lung. Initial treatment started Oct 11th and completed Nov 22, 2022.
The whole experience has been a bit surreal for me as I had no symptoms at all.  It still feels strange to tell people I have lung cancer. I cut off all my hair as it was VERY long (about 2 feet cut off and donated to the Wigs for Kids program) in anticipation of the hair loss from chemo so I am glad I can crochet my own toques and beanies.

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My initial treatments were somewhat successful as the mass in my lung has shrunk about 30% and the lymph nodes have shrunk as well.  On to immunotherapy in January for a year.  I am a bit anxious about that but the oncologist told me it doubles my chances of survival so I will go ahead with it.

If I had one thing to tell people about having cancer, it’s to look after yourself and not try to pretend everything is fine. I am not good at letting others do things for me, but I have had to learn to accept my limitations. I tire easily and need more rest than I used to.
One of the biggest challenges for me personally has been eating.  The radiation treatments burned my esophagus badly and swallowing was very painful, no matter what I was trying to swallow.  Sometimes, I could have several bites, and all would be good and then I would take a sip of water and have pain that drove me to my knees. It made it difficult to even want to eat. While the pain is a lot better now, I am still struggling with my appetite.
I have always done art or crafts of some sort, so I haven’t had any issues with too much time on my hands. I crocheted a lot of hats and the ones I don’t need are going to the homeless shelter.  Once home from treatment, I have spent a lot of time in my art studio making cards and Christmas gifts.
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I’m glad I found the Cancer Connections website early on as it’s been a wealth of information as well as a place to vent when necessary. Connecting with others who are going through a similar experience can make all the difference in the world.
My focus now is on recovery from the chemo and radiation, and I am hoping the immunotherapy isn’t too hard on me. Eventually I will go back to work, but I think we are a couple of months away from that so I can take this time to rest before I return to the stress that my job brings.

Hope this finds everyone as well as can be expected.
Lianne

Thank you for sharing your story with us Lianne. I wish you well as you start your immunotherapy this month and look forward to your updates in the forums. ( from another Lianne 😉 )


If you are interested in sharing your story and being featured in a future Meet Your Neighbour, please reach out to Lianne at cancerconnection@cancer.ca