My name is Jeanette and I have advanced lung cancer.
My story starts like many others diagnosed with lung cancer, it was discovered by chance. It was autumn 2012, I had just turned 49 years old and I had started training for a half marathon with my personal trainer.
I was reasonably fit and otherwise healthy, but on that day I knew something wasn’t right. Interval training exercises I typically didn’t struggle to complete, left me out of breath and physically drained.
Knowing something wasn’t quite right, I went to see my GP the next day, who initially thought I might have had blood clots in my lungs and promptly sent me in for a chest x-ray and blood tests. I was cleared of blood clots but the x-ray revealed scarring on my lung, resulting in my GP questioning whether I had Tuberculosis, an infection, or scarring from a past episode of pneumonia.
Following this initial evaluation, I was referred to a respiratory physician who started me on a course of antibiotics and embarked on a month of tests including CT scans, bronchoscopy and a PET scan. It didn’t become apparent that there was a solid mass on my right lung until a second CT scan revealed a mass amongst the scar tissue – confirming that I had lung cancer.
The start of my treatment journey
I was first referred to a brilliant surgeon who performed my surgery by video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). After a month recovery post-surgery, I commenced three months of chemotherapy to essentially mop up any stray cancer cells. I found the chemotherapy treatment tough – both physically and mentally. I know that everyone is unique in their experience of treatment and for me, the fatigue and nausea was so debilitating that it meant I was reliant on others to care for me.
I wasn’t prepared for the mental hurdles and there were days when I felt so ill, that I couldn’t get off the couch – I just wanted to stop the gruelling treatment regimen. I had to really dig deep within myself to find my strength and remind myself not to accept defeat; many people have undergone this treatment and come through the other side. I believed I could too. In my mind I thought “it’s only three months and then I get my life back”. Thinking back to that period, the chemotherapy has been the toughest battle I have ever had to face in my lifetime.