Frances Beard is the mother of a young adult daughter. She, her husband, Bill, and daughter live in Maryland. Frances was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013. She and Bill credit Lungevity Foundation with their ongoing education about the disease and treatment options. They are stepping up their advocacy activities to help advance public awareness, research and funding related to lung cancer. Frances is involved in several social justice initiatives and enjoys road trips.
Can you describe the most difficult thing you experienced when you were diagnosed with lung cancer?
The most difficult thing for me was disappointment when surgery to remove the cancerous area in my lung was unsuccessful. I felt lost in figuring out a doctor to see initially as I was in a state of utter disbelief, shock, and confusion. That doctor (not a specialist in lung cancer) gave me much hope in suggesting surgery and recommending a surgeon (who was, himself, disappointed in the outcome).
What was the biggest unexpected change in your life after your diagnosis?
Immediately following diagnosis, I felt I had entered a strange land. The primary change was living with the burden of persistent uncertainty. I lost the ability to plan, even for a week or weeks ahead.
Since your diagnosis, what support/resources have been most useful to you?
Since my diagnosis six years ago, the most useful support has been information-sharing among other survivors, primarily through LUNGevity. I have benefited from participation in support groups. Educational forums featuring medical providers and researchers have helped me to have more informed conversations with medical providers.
What does the term “survivor” mean to you?
Before finding LUNGevity the term “survivor” meant someone who had been cured of cancer. Today it means that I have been a survivor since diagnosis. However, at times I still wonder if when I refer to myself as a lung cancer survivor, people think I have been cured.
If you could give any advice or words of wisdom to a newly diagnosed patient, what would it be?
My advice would be to not rush into the first suggested treatment option before doing some of your own educated research and a second opinion. In my panic, I did not do that. Now when there is progression, I know I can take a little time to chart the best course.
Why did you choose to be part of this particular organization?
LUNGevity gave me instant access to opportunities for connection. I was matched with a wonderful LifeLine partner and my first national HOPE Summit lifted me out of the wilderness of aloneness. Now I feel a need to strengthen my volunteer activities beyond being a LifeLine partner myself and occasional fundraising.
LUNGevity Spotlight is a way to highlight people living with lung cancer, caregivers, volunteers, and fundraisers who are making a positive impact in the LUNGevity community. We hope that their stories will inspire and encourage many more to get involved.
If you know someone in the LUNGevity community whom you'd like us to Spotlight, please nominate them here.