I feel like I’ve just won a trip to the Oscars and I’m headed to Hollywood.
That’s what attending the International Association of the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) in Yokohama Japan means to me - it’s a dream come true! Spending 4 days at a conference about lung cancer may not sound like the red carpet to most, but this is truly my Hollywood, and the stars are all the brilliant minds that come together, share information and collaborate to further lung cancer research.
Twice recently, in print, I have been asked the same question. Once on an evaluation of a previous doctor appointment, and within the last week, on a pre-registration form for an oral surgeon. The question: "How is your health?" "Excellent." "Good." Fair." "Poor." The two times I saw this question, I snickered. I mean, I have cancer: Stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer in fact, the terminal kind. And even though I've lived way beyond my original "13 month to two-year" prognosis, (eight and a half years and counting, always counting), I'm still undergoing treatment.
I don't want to praise the Lord too much for providing me with such a trivial and mundane benefit but, I sure am grateful when my 112 pounds of cat litter arrives/is delivered to my front porch, mere feet away from our cats' litter boxes. "Auto Ship," baby. No more am I lugging 28 to 44 pound boxes of cat litter into our five-indoor-cat household from the local supermarket and/or pet superstore.
By Maria Carmina Joyce Alferez, MD, September 20, 2017
Carla’s lung mass kept on developing resistance to the drugs she was on, but luckily she usually had no symptoms save for some coughing. There were occasional side effects like fatigue but all were manageable. She married Bud in January of 2015. It was one of the most beautiful weddings I have been to. It was a solemn promise of love and a celebration of life. At this point, Carla was on her third line of treatment, Afatinib.
In 2016 Rayna Pitko went to see her primary care physician. She was having pressure on her chest and was worried. At that office visit, her vitals were so concerning that her doctor immediately sent her to the ER where testing found a massive mediastinum mass. She was ultimately diagnosed with stage 4 NSCLC in September of 2016 with a rare subtype called hepatoid adenocarcinoma.
Our long, local, overnight nightmare is almost over. By the date this column publishes, I will, for the first time in nearly nine weeks, not had to have snaked down in the dark, our "turny-twisty" and narrow 150-year-old staircase to walk from the upstairs master bedroom to the downstairs and only usable commode.
By Maria Carmina Joyce Alferez, MD, September 13, 2017
After the first few days of shock, we immediately went into hyper drive. Being a physician, I was front and center in all the research for lung cancer, translating the results into layman’s terms for my family. My husband was my partner in all of these, helping me explain to the family all the medical jargon and plans that we were going to do. There were days that I felt very tired and desperate but I could not show it to my family.
Ordinarily I wouldn't have given the Lyrica television commercial too much attention. But there sat a spokesperson named Kenny, his name clearly printed in red script on top of a white oval located above his right breast pocket on his custom-work shirt, a middle-aged white man like me, holding his left foot across his right knee talking about a medical problem that we both feel: the "shooting, burning, pins and needles of diabetic nerve pain."
By Maria Carmina Joyce Alferez, MD, September 6, 2017
When my sister, 2 years younger than me, complained of dull, constant pain on the left back area in 2011, we thought it was just because of her posture at work. Carla was then 28 years old, a smart, vibrant and levelheaded IT specialist in one of the prestigious hotels in Asia and her work meant long hours of sitting down.
How lucky am I? In the last two days, I have been the extremely lucky, though presumably random, recipient, of not one but two unsolicited phone calls offering me FREE accommodations at any number of Marriott and Hilton hotels, fairly reputable brands, I'd say. All I have to do is transport my wife, Dina, and myself to the agreed-upon hotel during the designated window of opportunity and voila, a semi-unencumbered vacation for two awaits. And believe me, the offer couldn't have come at a better time.