Michel was a fit and healthy 42-year-old when he almost passed out while walking to work one day. The father-of-two had been experiencing neck pain, but no other symptoms pointed to any sign of trouble.
“I was diagnosed with lung cancer by chance in May 2017. I had a constant pain in my neck and had tried several remedial therapies. I finally went for a neck adjustment, a day later I got wobbly legs, which made me check myself in with the GP. There were no other symptoms that I had to suggest anything like cancer was spreading within me. After many tests, I was diagnosed with non-smoking Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer EGFR positive with Exon 19 Deletion mutation. I’m fortunate that a lot of research has been done on the mutation I have and there are medications available. I started treatment within a month.
Being told that I had a tumour in my spine, that my spine was ready to collapse, and I could be paralysed from the chin down, even die, was very confronting. To then be told I have cancer of the lung knocked me out. Throughout this whole diagnosis process I felt like I was being interrogated about my smoking. They asked questions like, ‘did you smoke?’, ‘could you have been exposed to passive smoke’. It makes you apprehensive to tell people you have lung cancer. So far every person that I have spoken with believes that smoking is the cause of lung cancer.
I’m one of the fortunate ones – I’m young and I feel healthy and strong and I have a great core group of supporters who I love spending time with, just living a normal life. Some days I think if it wasn’t for this diagnosis, I may not have made these amazing connections within my community and friends. My experience means I have a better understanding of what cancer is in general and I’m excited to bring awareness to not only Australia, but the world on how lung cancer patients need the same investment in research and access to treatment and support as any other cancer.”
My advice to anyone newly diagnosed is:
- Don’t be afraid to speak up when you are with your Oncology team– they have a broad body of knowledge on this, but they also are learning new things everyday.
- There is nothing wrong with going with the flow – enjoy the moments of peace while you have them.
- Connect with your support groups and the community around you that you feel comfortable with.