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Survivor Judy Toscano Saw the Signs of Lung Cancer Early

  • December 30 2013

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    Survivor Judy Toscano Saw the Signs of Lung Cancer Early

    Who would have thought that by helping other people understand lung cancer, I would help myself recognize the symptoms and get the care I needed? I was first diagnosed with stage IV bronchioloalveolar cancer (BAC) in 2002. Having had three previous cancers—skin, breast and cervical—successfully treated in the past, I expected to continue aggressive treatment following a lobectomy to remove part of my lung.

    I was shocked to hear my oncologist tell me that instead, a “wait and see” approach might be best. I believed that path was the right one for me, although it felt a lot like jumping off a cliff without a parachute. Slowly, however, I took back my life, which included making a commitment to help defeat lung cancer. As my own fear quieted, I started building a relationship with the National Lung Cancer Partnership. My decision to get involved didn’t just have an impact on the lung cancer movement; it profoundly changed my own lung cancer journey, as well.

    In the summer of 2012, I developed a sharp pain in my left shoulder. My doctors reassured me it was likely related to a sports injury. Then, while volunteering for the Partnership at a lung cancer information table for a local health fair, I found myself handing out their Lung Cancer Symptoms Bookmark, wondering if that nagging pain could be a sign of lung cancer progression. As I read the bookmark, my heart sank. “Remember these symptoms of lung cancer.....Ache or pain in shoulder, back or chest.” I immediately called my doctor, and three days after getting a chest X-ray, I underwent wedge resection surgery to remove a new tumor. I thought the whirlwind was over, but it wasn’t.

    A few weeks after surgery, a follow-up PET scan revealed that I had developed a new lung cancer type: adenocarcinoma with a KRAS mutation and metastasis to my brain, spine and pelvis. I immediately started chemotherapy and radiation, then later, radiosurgery to the brain. I knew that treatment options for the KRAS mutation were few, but as my doctor said, “the stars were aligned” for me. A new clinical trial, testing two drugs that work together to target my mutation, opened at my hospital. As excited as I was to participate in a trial, I also felt vulnerable and afraid.

    Once more I feared I was jumping off a cliff; and once more, I reached out to the Partnership for help. Their expertise and patient education resources helped me understand the clinical trial, including potential risks and benefits. Armed with information, I now feel as though I have a parachute. I’ve been on this clinical trial now for a few months, and doctors are monitoring my progress. Ever since my first lung cancer diagnosis, the Partnership has been a source of support, information and purpose. I can’t tell you where I would have been without that simple Lung Cancer Symptoms Bookmark. And I’m so grateful the Partnership helped guide my path to a clinical trial. I don’t know what my future holds. But I do know that since my diagnosis, I have watched the rapid advancement of research and treatment. Because of this, I have hope

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Comments

  1. daniel 05:32am, 02/11/2016

    Thanks for the signs about lung cancer.really helpful

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