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Nancy Carpenter was FreeToBreathe's featured survivor of the month for April.
Nancy with her daughters at youngest daughter Natalie's wedding this spring
In 2002, I had a seizure out of the blue. That seizure may have saved my life, because after a brain lesion was detected, the doctors ran additional tests. That was when a small lesion was discovered on the upper left lobe of my lung and I was diagnosed with lung cancer. I was frightened, but remained positive. I was fortunate to be a candidate for cutting edge treatments to eliminate my cancer. I had multiple surgeries followed by five challenging months of chemotherapy.
My journey with lung cancer was not over, however. Two years later, my oncologist spotted an enlarged lymph node in my chest, which led to a second round of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I remained in remission and cancer free until 2011, when a new lesion in my left lung appeared. I was ready to continue the fight! Fortunately, a targeted therapy called Tarceva was also part of my treatment plan.
I am thrilled to say that I am cancer free and it has been three years now with no new cancer! I am proof that tumor testing and targeted therapy give lung cancer patients a better quality of life after diagnosis and increased survival.
Early on I was surrounded by a group of strong family and friends who never doubted that I would survive this disease. They rallied together, and their belief in God’s love, healing and hope supported me through all of the challenges I’ve faced.
I have been blessed to have a long-time friend who has laughed, cried and encouraged me since the day of my diagnosis — her belief in me never wavered. Our nearly daily phone conversations are a huge part of my healing. While she isn’t able to come to appointments with me, she always remembers the dates and asks about the results.
Still, I learned we can’t expect our friends and caregivers to stay connected all of the time. They need a break, too! Every step of this process has made me stronger and more independent. In the last 10 years I have rebuilt my life; starting a new career, adjusting to being single and helping my youngest daughter through college.
I looked for several years to find the right advocacy organization to get involved with. In 2012, I was introduced to Free to Breathe through Charles Florsheim and Susan Swanson. They recruited me to the planning committee for the Dallas/Ft. Worth Free to Breathe Run/Walk. It is wonderful to give back.
Hope has been deep down in my spirit from day one. Yes, I was scared. But I’ve had a long time to train myself to stay positive, laugh and pray a lot, and lean on the brilliant and dedicated doctors who are working alongside me in this journey. My faith keeps me on the right track. I truly believe that hope is the biggest thing we can do for ourselves and those we love, along with giving our bodies good nutrition and laughter.
Having something meaningful to look forward to is one of my life secrets. A few weeks ago, I witnessed my youngest daughter, Natalie, get married. My oldest daughter married her love in 2013. These are exciting times full of hope, and I look forward to watching my future grandchildren grow up. I am also excited to move into my cottage Tudor home and flourish in my real estate business.
More than anything, I want to be a part of finding a cure for lung cancer and many other cancers not just for me, but also for my children, their children and all our future generations.