Melissa shares how she felt about being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and describes the treatment options she has tried.
Read the full transcript »
Michelle: How did you feel about being diagnosed? Melissa: I didn’t know what to think really. I was really overwhelmed and I just, I didn’t exactly know what it meant because at that time, I felt okay. I had a little bit of back pain, but they had fixed that. So, for the most part, I almost felt like it wasn’t real. And it wasn’t until they got me on the painkillers and sent me home that I started worrying, okay, maybe this is real, the painkillers that they had me on—I had 20 different kinds of pills, and it was just making me so sick. I was throwing up, you know, I was breaking out in cold sweats. I think it was almost the medicine that was making me sick more than the cancer was and that actually happens to a lot of patients. Michelle: It does, a lot. The mind goes. The, the body just can’t withstand the medications. You’re in bed. You just, you feel horrible. Melissa: Absolutely, so once that happened, let’s see, they started me on chemo and I had to go in and had it infused into my body. I have a port-a-cath. Michelle: You do? Melissa: Yes, so they didn’t have to stick me with the IV every time and each session took about five hours. And so I went through three sessions and then they did the PET scan. And with cancer what they do is they have what they call a baseline, where they’ll do a PET scan and they’ll measure you and see where you are at, at that moment, and then they will move forward with whatever medication they’re giving you. So at that point they were moving forward with the chemo and then after a couple of months we’ll do another PET scan and they’ll measure that against the baseline to see if the cancer is growing. So for me, the cancer had progressed so they decided to try something different. They tried a new pill called Tarceva which is actually a targeted chemotherapy and with the targeted chemotherapies they actually kill the bad cells and not as many as the good cells. So, the side effects are minimal. I mean, it’s not nearly as bad as some of the other chemo drugs that are out there. So, I think the only side effects are diarrhea and a rash. So, hair loss, nausea, all those types of things are very, very, very minimal. So, I was really happy about that because all I did was take a pill everyday which is easy. So, as of right now, that’s what I am on. In a couple of weeks we will probably do another PET scan and see where I am at and we’ll either swish things up if the cancer is still progressing or stay on Tarceva.