I Know I Am Lucky

A phone call in August, 2010 changed my life forever. That was the official beginning of my personal relationship with cancer.

After contending with blood tests, MRIs, CAT scans, EEGs, PET scans and biopsies, the results revealed Stage IV lung cancer with metastasis to the brain.Following this mind-blowing news, I had to educate myself quickly to make several life-affecting decisions such as selecting a medical team and choosing among treatment alternatives.

Once these agonizing decisions were made, I immediately began to undergo treatment in the form of whole brain radiation, oral targeted gene therapy and stereotactic radiation to the lung. While dealing with treatment and its side effects, I also had the discomfort and anxiety of more blood tests, MRIs and CAT scans to evaluate progress.But I am lucky. Very lucky. I achieved remission in less than eight months. I remain in remission to this day. I feel “normal” again. But I will never be the same.I knew I had to use my good fortune to provide hope and support to others going through similar cancer experiences.

Even while undergoing treatment, I felt a compulsion to share my experience on-line with others who might be going through something similar. I created a blog to document each step of the experience and the discussions and results of each doctor’s appointment (http://donnaleecaringella.blogspot.com/).

I received many comments from friends and strangers alike who found my experience helpful in providing better understanding or comforting them as they grappled with a similar situation for themselves or their loved ones.After my remission, I compiled the various techniques I found useful for coping and healing into a booklet called A Survivor’s Quick Tips for Managing Cancer.

The booklet is simple in presentation and design and contains all kinds of information I wish I had been given when my head was spinning after my initial diagnosis. I taught myself how to build a website to house the booklet (www.quicktipsformanageringcancer.com) so I could make it available for download or print at no cost. My goal is to get this booklet in the hands of anyone who might benefit from it. I have also been distributing hard copies to medical professionals and cancer support organizations.

One of the things I found most beneficial in the course of my cancer journey is yoga and relaxation therapy.Since that made such a difference for me, I have become a relaxation coach and I visit the cancer ward at the local hospital to provide relaxation therapy to people while they undergo chemotherapy treatments.

I have been a “lung cancer mentor” to over forty other lung cancer fighters since my remission. I am also an outspoken activist through various websites and lung cancer eventsI feel it is my mission to provide hope for others afflicted by this heinous disease and to provide awareness and advocacy for the need for more funding to find a cure for this deadliest of cancers.