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Felita's Story

'I’m shining through life: I want others to shine, too'

By Felita Adams

I smoked for 20 years, but never thought I would have lung cancer. In fact, I had stopped smoking five years before I was diagnosed with it.

I knew something was wrong, though, when I started having headaches, and I couldn't walk 20 feet without getting short of breath. So, I went to my local hospital to get checked out.

There, my doctor told me, "Mrs. Adams, you have lung cancer." It wasn't easy being told I had cancer, but I thought to myself, 'This is my life, and I can't lose it. It's my time to shine.' To get treatment, I searched for the "best of the best," and that's when I found Rush.

'I knew I had my support team'

When I met medical oncologist Philip Bonomi, MD, my whole life changed. He made me feel as though I didn't have anything to worry about. Bonomi told me, "Felita, we're going to do everything we can to knock this thing out."

At that time, I didn't know the headaches were because the cancer had metastasized to my brain. Bonomi referred me to radiation oncologist Gaurav Marwaha, MD, who told me, "This is going to be tricky, but we're going to get this done. I'm going to start radiation on your brain. I got it. We're going to take care of this."

From that point on, I knew I had my support team at Rush — Bonomi and Marwaha, as well as nurses, Sarah Anderson, NP, and Irene Haapoja, NP.

'We've all become a family'

Since being diagnosed, I've had 58 total radiation treatments, along with surgery. The headaches are gone but I still have MRIs every three months to monitor the cancer.

Now I'm on immunotherapy treatment, but that's OK because I accepted it, and I felt prepared. If I have a question, or just need to hear members of my medical team's voices, I can reach out to any of them and they are always responsive.

I am lucky to have a support system at home and one at Rush. And we've all become family. They've helped me be strong for myself and others.

'My story will help someone else'

I believe deep in my heart that my story will help someone else who has cancer better understand their diagnosis and continue pushing forward. I came to Rush and received everything that I needed to keep moving forward. I'm shining through life, and I want others to shine, too.

Felita Adams will speak at Rush's upcoming Shine a Light event on Thursday, Nov. 7.