Terri’s story

Lung Cancer

Not a day goes by when lung cancer doesn’t affect my life. If it’s not physical, it’s a mental or a social or financial consequence of it every single day. Only the strong people get this. And have loads of funny and sad stories to tell because of it.

My name is Terri. I’m a wife, Mum and a Nanna and I love all these jobs! My grandkids have been one of the most precious gifts anyone could have given me as the longer I get to live and fight the longer I get to see them grow up.

Work is a big thing for me – I own a hairdressing business and work there on Saturdays. Monday to Friday I work in safety on a mine site two hours out of Mackay and really enjoy the challenge and the friendships I have made from it.

Hubby and I are mad keen fisherman and every spare moment we spend days on the boat taking time out with no phones and kicking back with a cold stubby.

Life is family and love and just wanting more of everything .

It was January 2017. I had the flu so I went to the doctor. He told me it was a virus and sent me home and that was that.

The next morning, I got my hubby to take me to outpatients at the Mater in town and the doctor there told me that I had ammonia, I was shocked. An x-ray of my lungs wasn’t clear so they sent me in for a CT scan. After the scan we sat in the waiting room for hours – you could see the doctor was struggling with something. My hubby said to me “I think this is not good”.

Just like that, they found a tumour in the top right lung.

The doctor asked if I smoked! I said yes and my hubby said no – I used to sneak them!

You know that hot flush that goes from your toes to the top of your head? No one can explain it. My world was perfect, my life was on fire. Life had never better, success was all mine. Then, in one second, it turned upside down.

I thought that my life was at the end and that it was never going to be good again. It’s all doom and gloom from here. I wasn’t angry – that came much, much later.

It was all a bit surreal. It’s something that you don’t know about or what it does or how it should feel – it’s not supposed to happen to you.

I think the most difficult part was the look in my hubby’s eyes when he looked back at me with such sadness and helplessness. Once that’s done you have to put your big girl panties on and tell your freaking kids and they understand! Not! I needed to make my family feel good and make the whole process as seamless as possible. Don’t ask me how I was going to make it happen, but it had to.

All the while thinking that it was all my own fault.

Money – well, let me tell you how expensive it is to die. Where was I going to get that from? I was going to use it all up and leave the family with nothing. That was a big burden to carry.

Not a day goes by when lung cancer doesn’t affect my life. If it’s not physical, it’s a mental or a social or financial consequence of it every single day. Only the strong people get this. And have loads of funny and sad stories to tell because of it.

In 2018 I’m 11.5yrs on, have had 4 lung removals and multiple rounds chemotherapy and radiation and am more determination than ever!

There are lots of things that need to be done to support Australians living with lung disease and improve outcomes for those to come:

  • Equal funding for support services
  • More support in all aspects of lung cancer 3
  • Equal research
  • Networking opportunities, support groups and information sessions in all towns
  • More awareness days/events each year to bring all us together
  • Mentoring programmes within cancer units in both public and private
  • And a thousand more ideas.

Sharing your personal experience with lung disease is a compelling and inspiring way for others to learn about and cope with their diagnosis. Your story may also encourage people to identify and act on symptoms they are experiencing, which may otherwise have been ignored.

Share your story, here.