Fighting Against ALK+ Lung Cancer
In October 2019 something felt “off”. Little did I know this feeling was going to lead to a devastating diagnosis 7 months later. Symptoms similar to allergy/sinus issues caused me to visit my PCP more than normal. Over a number of months of being told that I was healthy and nothing major was wrong, I trusted my gut and pushed my PCP for bloodwork and a chest x-ray – this proved to be a good move.
After many medical tests and several surgical procedures, I was diagnosed with ALK positive cancer, a rare form of lung cancer. A complete shock. I did not fit the profile of a person at-risk for lung cancer – young, healthy, never worked around hazardous material, not a 30+ year smoker. I quickly learned that not all forms of lung cancer are the same and there are several uncommon types – one of which is caused by a gene called ALK.
I’ve been fortunate to have great resources around me to guide me through this process. Even more fortunate to be partnered with a leading researcher and physician at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Vincent Lam. Dr. Lam’s research and clinical trials have already made significant advances in the lung cancer community and he is committed to finding a cure for ALK positive lung cancer.
After pursuing several aggressive treatment approaches and partnering with great doctors at Johns Hopkins and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, I’m currently living with no active signs of cancer.
Research plays a critical role in keeping patients like me alive, enjoying life to its fullest, continuing to make memories with family and friends.
I am a stage IV lung cancer survivor, diagnosed in September 2016. I have 2 amazing girls and a super supportive husband. We enjoy making family memories together and loving life! I mentor newly diagnosed patients through LUNGevity, and am active in fundraising and advocate for lung cancer research.
I noticed symptoms in November 2019, fast forward two and a half years later and they determined I had Stage IV Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Thankfully, they told me that I had a genomic biomarker that had targeted therapies. I was ALK Positive and there was hope. I am still here living life to the fullest. I’m embracing every moment I have with my family, thankful for everyday because each day is a gift. Pay attention to your body and be your own advocate because no one else will do it for you.
I have spent my life drinking from a cup that is half full. When my Pandemic 2020 cough did not resolve, lung cancer as the culprit certainly was not on my radar. I had no history of smoking and had been teaching fitness classes since college. My experience with research and advocacy for my son, who has cerebral palsy, has now turned into educating others that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer. My thirst for hope has only deepened as there is simply never enough time with my husband and children.