Surviving Lung Cancer in 7 Steps
I don’t believe that a lung cancer diagnosis has to be a death sentence. Although it most certainly felt that way when it first happened. I remember hearing the news thinking, “There’s no way that’s right. That can’t be true, not for me, there’s no way I have cancer.” But it was true. I did have cancer. So although it should have been no surprise that I was diagnosed with lung cancer, it was still a surprise to me. But since then I’ve been able to quit smoking and take steps towards recovering and overcoming my cancer. I want to share 7 steps with you that I think anyone who has been diagnosed with lung cancer, or any cancer, should take to successfully survive with cancer. But just a disclaimer, I’m not a doctor, this is just my advice and opinions based on what has worked for me.
This really applies to before you are diagnosed. This is true if you’re a non-smoker, but especially if you’re a smoker, you want to get checked often. The sooner you find out if you do have cancer, the easier it will be to treat it and survive from it. I would recommend getting a CAT scan of your chest at least one time a year.
This may depend on where you live and what kind of doctors and medical facilities you have access to. But you need to make sure that your oncologist is someone who you trust, who has experience with lung cancer, and someone who is going to treat you like a person rather than just a patient.
After I learned that I had lung cancer, I threw myself into learning as much information I could about it. I researched the causes, possible treatment options, stories of people who had survived, and how to make changes that would help my chances of survival. I really think you should arm yourself with information so that you know what you’re up against and how to fight it.
Quitting smoking was obviously the first thing I did after being diagnosed. It wasn’t easy, but knowing that what I was doing was literally killing me every single day made the transition a lot easier than I thought it would be. I also started to look at other ways that I was maybe harming myself and decided to make healthier choices.
You need to have people around you who are going to lift you up and take care of you. I learned that the more people I have around me who care about me and want to see me get better, the easier it is for me to face the reality of having cancer every day. You have to have people that you can count on, especially on the tough days.
I find it helpful to see all of my doctor visits, all of know test results, and know exactly where I am now in relation to when I was first diagnosed. I like to track my “progress” so to speak because it keeps me informed, but it also helps me feel like I have more control over my situation. And I can clearly see when treatment is or isn’t working and can make adjustments accordingly.
Of all the steps, this may be the most important. I know it sounds cheesy, but deciding that you won’t give up is a huge step. It's really a commitment to yourself and to your will to keep on fighting. Because cancer can be a long and drawn out fight, but if you’ve decided not to give up you’ve already won half the battle.