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'
At that time, I didn't know the headaches were because the cancer had metastasized to my brain. My oncologist at Rush 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 — my oncologist and Marwaha, as well as nurses, Sarah Anderson, NP, and Irene Haapoja, NP.
‘I can survive that, too’
Since being diagnosed, I've had 58 total radiation treatments, along with surgery.
And in March 2020, I had attended a birthday party where unknowingly a guest had COVID-19, and I ended up testing positive for the virus as well. As a person who is high risk for the virus, I had my concerns, but I also had faith and confidence that I was going to be OK — that I could survive this, too.
After quarantine, I later met with Grant Garrigues, MD, who did my shoulder replacement because the cancer had metastasized to the bone of my left shoulder, and now I’m in physical therapy to regain motion in my arm.
I have completed my immunotherapy treatments, and I have MRIs every three months to monitor the cancer. And that's OK because I have accepted it, and I feel supported.
'We've all become a family'
Receiving treatment during a pandemic can be difficult but I feel safe and can rely on my care team. If I ever have a question, concern 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.
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.