Hometown: Deerfield, IL
We asked Jill to share her story with Pfizer
I am Jill, a mother of four, wife and part-time sales executive from Deerfield, Illinois with a passion for advocacy. In fact, I became involved with the LUNGevity Foundation after losing both my parents, two grandparents and aunt to lung cancer.
With a strong family history of the disease, I insisted on getting baseline check-ups and CT scans despite my healthy lifestyle. At first, routine scans showed no cancer activity. A few years later, I was diagnosed with Stage IA adenocarcinoma and had surgery to remove a portion of my right lung. Two years later I was re-diagnosed with Stage IA adenocarcinoma after having surgery to remove another suspicious nodule in my right lung.
My doctor had samples of both tumors tested after my surgeries and both tests revealed I was EGFR-positive, making me a candidate for an adjuvant targeted therapy. Molecular testing was nothing new to me as I was familiar with the latest research in lung cancer through my advocacy work. I began treatment soon after my first surgery.
More recently, a CT scan showed three suspicious nodules growing in my right lung, which suggests that the cancer is likely to be more advanced than we had originally thought. It was reassuring to hear from my doctor that tumors were only found in my chest, which gave me a better prognosis than if the tumors had spread.
In the past several months, my tumors have shown no aggressive growth. I continue to find strength through my family, friends and fellow patients. My advocacy involvement has empowered me to be a messenger instead of a victim. I have learned how to proactively cope with the losses that I cannot control and in turn educate others about lung cancer, which is so often stigmatized as a self-inflicted disease and therefore gets a disproportionate amount of public attention and research dollars.
With the advancements I have seen in the field over the past few years, I urge all newly diagnosed patients to find the right healthcare team who can work with you as a patient, not a disease. Asking for molecular testing is important because the results can be critical for your treatment plan. You can have control over your own care not only by asking the right questions, but also by consistently keeping track of personal records and scans. Always remember, knowledge is power.
November 24, 2012