Patient stories

Gwen

I was diagnosed at aged 35. The only symptom I had was a wheeze that wouldn’t go away after a bad cold/chest infection in October 2014. As a fit, non-smoker who works in a school, I was twice misdiagnosed before being sent for a chest x-ray and then the lung cancer roller coaster began. CT and PET scan showed an 11cm mass in my right lung with several tiny suspect spots in my left and 2 lymph nodes infected, thankfully nothing showed up elsewhere.

 

A Bronchoscopy was successful in getting a sample and found out it was NSCLC adenocarcinoma. A sample was also sent off to test for genetic markers and when this returned I was told I was ALK+. At this time, Crizotinib was approved as a second line treatment so I went through 5 rounds of chemotherapy which worked really well but my

kidneys didn’t like it, so we switched to Crizotinib at that point and I’ve been on it since.

 

I had to build myself back up with regards to exercise. Walking my dog helped and in Scotland, Macmillan have teamed up with local fitness centres so that people with any type of cancer get 10 free supervised sessions. So when I felt ready to try jogging again, I joined this. Recently, I joined a kickboxing club and am really enjoying being able to do this type of exercise again! I am back at work part-time, although again with this I built up by going in volunteering just one morning a week, then slowly increased until I found the right balance for me. I have found that a big part of treatment is finding my new ‘normal’ and adapting/accepting it. I have no special diet, I try to have a balanced diet but I generally eat what I want and have a couple of glasses of wine at the weekend. Before finding out I was ALK+, I was given 2-3 years life expectancy, so I figure if I want a piece of chocolate, why not?!