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Meet Linda

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It's time for everyone to meet the first "neighbour" of 2015. This month we'd like to introduce you to Linda, better known on our community as Survivor5. Here's a bit about Linda, in her own words-

Hello, my name is Linda Taylor and I’m a Survivor.
In February 2006, things couldn’t have been better for our family.  We were planning a wedding for our daughter and only child, and my husband Steve and I had booked our dream vacation to Tahiti and Bora Bora.
I had just had my physical when my doctor called and said they had found a shadow on my right lung.  He thought it was probably scar tissue from pneumonia.  So, I wasn’t overly concerned when he sent me to a respiratory specialist.  He performed several tests and gave us the worst possible prognosis – there was a tumor in my right lung which he believed was cancer. 
My husband and I came home in a state of shock.  Your first thought is you don’t know anybody that has survived lung cancer.  So, I did what most people do – I went on the CCS website and looked up everything I could find on lung cancer, and remember thinking, this isn’t possible…..I feel fine.  However, I may not see my daughter married and probably never enjoy my first grandchild. 
From the Canadian Cancer website statistics I knew the odds weren’t good – Lung cancer is still a major killer.  While the treatment for many cancers has led to significantly lower mortality rates, lung cancer mortality rates remain very high.  In fact, lung cancer causes more deaths annually in Canada than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal combined.  The odds then were about 12% in my favour.

But, I knew that when it comes to facing difficult situations, experts have found that there is little that rivals a positive mindset so I became determined to be in that 12%. 

I was then referred to a thoracic surgeon who, over a period of 2 months, performed 9 more extensive tests, which included surgery to take test samples of the lymph nodes to determine if the cancer had spread.  When they were doing the biopsy I remember thinking that the needles were so big they must have borrowed them from a horse surgeon.
However, luck was also on my side - the tumor was non-small cell, and had not spread.  The merry-go-round was finally slowing down.
The beginning of May, lung resection surgery was performed to remove the middle section of my right lung and sew it back together.  After 2 days in intensive care and 7 in the hospital I finally came home.  I had never noticed before how many bumps were in the road between the hospital and my home.
In July, I began weekly chemo treatments which were to last for four months.   Back then they didn’t do cycles to give your body a chance to recover.  Unfortunately, chemo and I did not get along very well and the further into the chemo treatments I got, the worse I felt – unable a lot of days to keep anything down and requiring IV hydration.  Luckily my oncologist was very sympathetic and postponed 2 of the treatments so I was able to attend and enjoy my daughter’s wedding.  The day of my last treatment in November, the nurses at the chemo clinic had a party for me and I kept thinking – this is one of the best days of my life.
Obviously, I am not going to tell you it was an easy process, either physically or emotionally.  Many times I wanted to give up but thanks to the support of my medical team, and the love and support of my family, friends, (and especially my caregiver husband, whom I might add, had the patience of a saint) I managed to complete all the treatments. 
That’s also when I decided it was time to give back and volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society.  I have now been involved with the Relay for Life Committee in Markham-Stouffville for 7 years - specifically chairing the Survivor Reception for 3 years.  And for the past few years I have also sold daffodils in Stouffville.
About 4 years ago, I wanted to get even more involved with giving back, and to use my cancer experience to help others who have been diagnosed with lung cancer. So, I became a Peer Support Volunteer helping lung cancer patients through their journey. 
I connect with the patient over the phone as often as they wish – sometimes weekly, sometimes after each chemo treatment, or after a doctor’s visit.  As lung cancer has such a high mortality rate, they are pleased to make contact with someone who is an 8 year survivor.  We discuss things such as emotions, fears, prognosis, treatment, surgery, side effect, questions to address with their doctor and nutrition, just to name a few.
Over this time I have been matched with several lung cancer patients from British Columbia to New Brunswick and everywhere in-between.
In addition to Peer Support, I am also a member of this online community -  It is a place to ask questions and get support online from people who are on their cancer journey and others who have been there.
So, as of today, my husband and I have taken that dream vacation, our first grandchild is now 6 years old and our second one is 6 months old.

I still volunteer as much as I can and envision a world where no one hears the words “you have cancer”!

As Linda has mentioned, on our community we have many different discussions for you to join. There is a specific lung cancer discussion area where many community members write of their experiences with diagnosis, treatments, and how they have been affected by lung cancer. To view the lung cancer discussions, click here


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