My name is Victoria and I am a six year survivor of lung cancer. I am now 24 weeks pregnant with our second miracle baby who is due in May.
Back in 2009, I was newlywed 29 year old teacher about to embark on one year teacher’s exchange program to Canada. I was having the required pre-trip medical tests, in particular a chest X-ray for Tuberculosis, identified a shadow in my lung.
I was diagnosed with stage 3A adenocarcinoma lung cancer in the left lung and less than two weeks later, just before Christmas, I was in hospital having my left lung removed. This was followed by 16 rounds of chemotherapy and radiation therapy in 2010. It was such a scary time. I was a fit and healthy and had never been a smoker. Lung disease wasn’t on my radar at all. I was in complete disbelief that this was actually happening to me. I didn’t even have any symptoms.
The chemotherapy was very tough and made me sick and extremely tired and lethargic. To make it to the mailbox and back was a big achievement. I coped with the radiation better, but I was still learning to do everyday things with only one lung, which made me quite breathless quickly. Making the bed, carrying the shopping, walking up and down the stairs… everything was a struggle. It was like having a bad case of asthma a lot of the time. Luckily, my family and friends kept me motivated through it all.
Miraculously, in 2013 I found out I was pregnant and gave birth to Archie, my one in a billion baby. Meeting Archie for the first time two hours after he was born was indescribable although the actual pregnancy was tough. The first 20 weeks I felt sick. It was like having chemo! It made the experience quite bittersweet, thinking how I had fought for my own life while now I was growing life inside me. As soon to be parents, our greatest challenge was the uncertainty of labour. I was advised a caesarean was our best option, and that there was a chance I would be put under a general anaesthetic instead of having an epidural. I was booked in for the caesarean at 36 weeks, as the doctors didn’t want me to go into spontaneous labour, as I wouldn’t be able to cope with the breathing control. Beautiful Archie William was born at 2.57kg and 53cm. After my stint in recovery I was wheeled into the nursery to meet Archie, and as I held his hand through the humidicrib with joy, I had an overwhelming feeling of being complete. Archie is indeed our little miracle baby.
It’s now been six years since I was diagnosed with lung cancer, Archie is a healthy and active toddler and the great news is Luke and I are now expecting a baby brother or sister for Archie in May. After getting through the first 18 weeks of morning sickness, I am now feeling great. Due to the absence of one of my lungs I tire very quickly and can really only walk short distances, especially in the heat of summer. It’s getting harder to carry Archie as he is now a heavy little toddler but we have lots of time sitting together for cuddles which hopefully makes up for it. It does often break my heart when he wants to be picked up and I have to say no. Luckily his daddy is more than happy to oblige!
I am currently working part time as I have been for the past 12 months as a year five primary school teacher which I love. I’m really back to leading a normal life now. My specialists have all said I don’t have to see them anymore as I’ve past the five year marker unless I have any concerns. Although I will continue to see my radiologist every two years as a precaution and to monitor any long term effects of the radiation treatment which I’m more than happy to do.
Luke and I make sure we make the most of every day and are always thinking of the next holiday to book as we love travelling so much. Thankfully Archie is very flexible too and enjoys new places. Our next short break is to Noosa before our next little Bub arrives.
Lung Foundation Australia acknowledges Practical Parenting January 2015 edition for parts of the Victoria’s story.