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Battling Lung Cancer: One Woman’s Journey

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When someone you care about is diagnosed with cancer, the first question that typically pops to mind is, “Why? Why does this person, who means so much to me, have to be sick?” Of course no one should have to hear the words “you have cancer,” whether you care for them or not. It’s an insidious disease whose impact is felt far and wide.

In the past few years, two people in my family have been diagnosed with cancer—my stepfather, and my stepsister. My stepfather lost his battle with stomach cancer fairly quickly, succumbing to the disease within months of his diagnosis. He was 76, and up until his first symptoms, was incredibly fit, vibrant and constantly on the go.

His daughter, Claire, 50, an avid outdoorswoman and nonsmoker, just this past February was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer . She’s still fighting, and this is her story.

Part 1: What Do These Lumps Mean?

I only first met Claire, a resident of Boise, Idaho for 19 years, when I was a senior in high school, so we have no childhood history, no shared memories of growing up. It took us awhile to get to know each other, as we only saw each other sporadically over the years. Our true bonding moment came, unfortunately, when her dad was in Hospice living out his last few days. Together, with my mother, we cared for him night and day, trying to make his remaining time as comfortable as possible. We also helped each other cope with our impending loss.

Now, just two-and-a-half years later, she’s fighting for her own life, and all I really can do is write about it, hoping that others learning of her story can garner hope from her great strength, educate themselves about this disease, and reach out to others who are either sick or are caring for someone who is.

Claire first noticed lumps right above her collar bone when she was traveling for business and quickly had them checked out by her doctor when she returned home. The doctor ordered a CT scan of Claire’s neck, which potentially showed scarring on one lung.

Add a Comment7 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

This is a very compelling story. I also will be waiting to hear more of the story.

May 2, 2009 - 10:18am

Hi, I can't wait to read more...I was diagnosed in Feb 09 with stage 4 lung cancer. I am always looking for others that are in the same situation...

May 2, 2009 - 7:31am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to melissawaller12)

Hi Melissa,
I too would like to hook up with others in the same situation. Seems like everyone out there has breast cancer, not lung. Somehow it's not quite the same. If you'd like to email me, my address is celowrie@cableone.net

May 5, 2009 - 8:20am
EmpowHER Guest

this is very compelling...I look forward to further installments

April 29, 2009 - 4:17pm

This article is a several-part series. Please check back to follow Claire's journey....

April 24, 2009 - 10:52am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Pamela Lessard)

Thanks for alerting readers to symptoms of lung cancer that show up at the collarbone. I was so surprised by this.
--Patricia in Arlington, VA

April 24, 2009 - 1:26pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Thanks for your comment, Patricia. Claire also says that she didn't have any other symptoms. No shortness of breath, no unexplained weight loss, no trouble swallowing, no swollen ankles or any of the other symptoms that might be tip offs.

April 29, 2009 - 7:10am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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