Claudia Regan is a certified yoga teacher living in Florida with her husband. Two days after her 67th birthday, she underwent a chest x-ray as part of pre-ops for shoulder replacement surgery. Her PCP called her into the office the day to tell her that she had lung cancer. While she had to stop teaching yoga for about a year due to chemo and side effects, she is back to teaching again, this time virtually. Her students take her classes from all over the world. Through those classes, she raises money for LUNGevity to help people who have helped her so much throughout her journey.
Can you describe the most difficult thing you experienced when you were diagnosed with lung cancer?
The most difficult thing for me was finding a way to tell my 33-year-old daughter, who lives out of town, that I had lung cancer. I just could not find the words to tell her, so I didn't for a month. I decided to wait until I had a biopsy, met with my oncologist, and had treatment plan in place before I told her. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. She was mad at me for not telling her and made me promise to keep her updated no matter what. I will keep my promise to her.
Since your diagnosis, what support/resources has been most helpful to you?
The support I received from my friends, family, and yoga students has been really helpful. You find out who your friends are after a diagnosis like this. My yoga practice has been invaluable to me as well. It helps me to train my mind to be more positive and also helps me to stop thinking about things for an hour or more so that I can move my body.
The knowledgeable people on LUNGevity Lung Cancer Support Community forums have also been a great help in calming me down and teaching me to have hope.
What is something that people close to you said or did that made a difference?
It seems to me that most people didn't really know what to say to me when I got my diagnosis. I got the usual "you are going to be fine" or "you can beat this" from most people, which really wasn't much help.
My oncologist told me that it's not about the quantity of life but the quality. He told me to go out there and live the best life I can and hope for the best. I decided to listen to him. It was great advice.
If you could give any advice or words of wisdom to a newly diagnosed person, what would it be?
The first thing I would say is try not to freak out and educate yourself about the disease, treatments, and side effects. I would also tell this person that many of the "forums" and groups out there can be very negative. Once I found LUNGevity, I dropped out of all the other groups that were just scaring me and making me cry all day. As soon as I dropped out of those groups, I felt much better. Search for the positive people. They are out there. They are here.
What gives you hope?
Teaching yoga and taking online yoga classes give me hope. I will be donating money from my online yoga teaching to LUNGevity, which also gives me hope and makes me feel good. Articles on new treatments give me hope as well as positive stories from other survivors. Good PET scans give me the most hope of all.
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.