A very happy new year to all of you (though maybe a few weeks late)! I just returned from India visiting family – and have come back all inspired. My new year’s resolutions are to advocate for more funding for lung cancer research and better access to medicines.
When I was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer at 40 years old, my life as I knew it changed forever. After finding a way to cope with my mortality, having several harsh treatments and surgeries, I decided I needed to find a new purpose. We all need something to drive us and, in my soul, I needed to help others. That’s when I became an advocate.
Is a plant based diet recommended for a cancer patient?
With so much nutrition information at our fingertips, it can be hard to make sense of it all. For the cancer patient, it be even more of a challenge. One common question that gets a lot of attention is a plant based diet. So what does this mean, and should you be following it?
Though I want to treat the disease—and my having been diagnosed with the disease—with respect, I don't want to treat it with the utmost reverence. I mean, it's not the Pope. It's an affliction, not an affection. Certainly not one worth embracing anyway. But definitely one that needs engaging. Treating and living with lung cancer shouldn't be a vertical-type, up or down, either-or set of options.
I don't want to self-indulge too much about last week's column but, sometimes in my unexpressed desire to fulfill my writing obligation/not let me cancer/cancer treatment affect my schedule, I write my column under less-than-ideal circumstances. Post chemotherapy/(last week) - the immediate week after, is about as challenging as it gets for me. I'm a bit irritable. I'm a bit out of sync/unable to focus. I'm somewhat impatient. My hands are shaky. My eyes are "squinty." I'm hungry yet I can't eat. My self-editing skills are below average - more than usual.
"Some club," as my late mother would likely scoff. And the club to which I refer is, to spin an old Groucho Marx joke: a club you'd rather not join especially if they'd have you as a member. This is of course, the cancer club, a club whose membership continues to grow despite worldwide efforts to the contrary. According to Medscope.com, one in two men and one in three women will be affected by cancer in their lifetime. Hardly a statistic to be ignored.
Recently, Mindy, who none of you regular readers know, died of lung cancer. She was my decades-long best friend's wife. And she was my friend too, going back almost 40 years. Married to my oldest friend (starting in 10th grade), Cary, for over 35 years, Mindy was originally classified as stage I five years ago. Cary didn't tell me for a year or so after because he didn't want to burden me with another piece of bad news, and Mindy being diagnosed with lung cancer would most definitely have been bad news.
Say that three times quickly. Heck, say it one time slowly. And then welcome to my whirled: the world of cancer treatment and survival. A "whirled" in which, eight years and nearly eight months post diagnosis, I continue to live, breathe, and write.
Lung cancer doesn’t discriminate. Regardless of age, gender, athleticism, or overall health, lung cancer can impact any one of us. Just ask lung cancer survivor Taylor Bell Duck.
In 2005, Taylor Bell Duck graduated from high school and expected to play Division 1 soccer. But when she got to college, her health started to become an issue. She experienced painful numbness in her feet and recurring pneumonia that ultimately forced her to quit the sport she loved. After countless doctor visits and tests, Taylor learned that her left lung had a large mass.