My Name is Debbie Pickworth,
On March 4, 2013, I went into my doctors' office thinking I would be getting my work release after being off for a week due to pneumonia. When I walked into the doctors' office and was seen immediately, I knew in my gut something wasn't right. She came in and said, "This is not good news. You have lung cancer." From that point on I knew nothing would ever be the same again. Every emotion you can have, you have in that one moment. Fear, Anger, disbelief, my husband, kids and grandkids all ran through my mind. In that one moment I thought my life was over. I watched my mother die of this when I was young so in my mind, this was the worst news I could of ever gotten.
Over the next few weeks, I was tested, biopsied, poked and prodded. If there was a test to be had, I had it done. All the while, everything going on around me was a blur. It was all happening in the blink of an eye. Finally the news came in. I had stage 4 lung cancer. The worst news I could have gotten. I knew what this meant in my mind. I didn't feel like I should have stage 4 lung cancer. I thought they were wrong. After all I don't smoke. I haven't smoked in more than 20 years. How could I have any lung cancer, let alone stage 4. Then something in my mind just switched gears. I came out of my poor pitiful me thinking and said to my self why not me. Better me than my kids or grandkids. It was time to go into survival mode. I started researching and went for a second opinion. Since the first biopsies didn't show any FDA approved mutations genes, they sent my biopsies out for further testing. They also confirmed the stage 4 diagnoses.
After all the testing, second opinions and a lot of research on my part, I have learned I have Non-small cell Adenocarcinoma Lung cancer. I also found out I have a mutation gene called BRAF v600e. This gene is important for more targeted treatment options. In between all the doctors, I have had a thoracentesis, pleurodesis, and then a chemo port put in to start treatment. I have had almost a full year of 2-3 different types of chemotherapy. I am stable and have been stable since January 2014. I did a a trial for my specific mutation gene and this had kept me stable foe 2 1/2 years and due to side effects I had to stop these drugs for a while. I am currently doing maintenance chemo and this is keeping me stable f.or now. I am always researching and looking for the next best thing. My hope for the future is not isn't just a cure for cancer, but for better treatment options for everyone. My goals for this year is to see my daughter walk down the isle and to beat the 5 year mark statistic. I already beat the 1-2 year statistics so now to beat this goal and then on to the next goal and I have many. One day, one wish, one goal. One end in site and that is to see a cure.
They say there is no cure for stage 4. I say there will be some day. Until then Stable keeps me here until a cure can be found and I will take that for every day I have. The more money that is raised for research the quicker they can find a cure or at the very least better treatment options. I am proof that anyone can get lung cancer. 2/3rds of all lung cancer is nonsmoking. Your mother, father, child can get this. The fact that Lung cancer is the Number 1 leading cause of cancer deaths world wide is enough to take notice. More than 200,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year. 160,000 people will die. It is that simple. It is that scary. We can all make a difference. Just raise your voice. Donate, Walk, Run or Ride. Just stand up and be heard and they will find a cure. Research has come a long way since my mom died in 1997. They still have a long way to go. By the grace of god, my family and friends, and the best doctors and nurses I have come to meet, I am hoping to see better treatment options and a cure in my life time.
On November 11 2017, I got to see my daughter walk down the isle with the love of her life. On March 4, 2018, I met my 5 year mark!! This is the year for stepping out of my comfort zone. I went to the hope summt this year in Washington DC and met with many lung cancer surviors and carrgivers. This was a great eperience and I can't wait to do it again. I cant wait for the lung force walk this year. things are changing in the lung cancer field and it's thanks to the many people who dontate and walk or run to help get funding for research. we need to find a cure or a better way for early detection. Thanks for all your help in reaching my goals and if you can't donate, come join Team Pickworth and walk with us. The bigger the team, the happier I am.
This past year I stepped out of my comfort zone and I was asked to go to Washington DC on behalf of Lung Force to Fight for funding for research dollars for Lung Cancer. I was honored to be asked and hope I did them proud.
I have gone a whole year being stable without treatment by gods grace. This has allowed me to help others and start support groups that need to be done. It has allowed me to raise more awareness about this aweful disease.
I went 20 months of no treatment and being stable on my own. Unfortunately this year I had progression to the thymus gland and had to have radiation to try and stop the spread. Radiation was simple however the side effects were not so simple and I have been dealing with radiation pneumonitis since. It has been a ruff 2020 but I will prevail. So many changes are happening in the lung cancer world and it's because of research and funding that is making this happen. Now more than ever we need this change.
After Radiation was done in 2020, I started back up on maintenance chemo. I do chemo every 4 weeks which gives me about 5 days of downtime then I'm good until the next round. I am stable and I consider myself a "healthy sick". Is it worth going thru what I do to live? Hell yes! I am here to fight another day. Cancer doesn't define me. It motivates me to be a better advocate and fight for and be a voice for the ones who can't. I post these updates because it's important for people to understand and I say this often that fighting cancer is a full time job. This is not just my normal, this is the normal for all people with lung disease. Without lungs, you cannot breathe and without breath, you cannot live.
This year I have been doing Chemo for the last 18 Months and my last 2 scans have shown no active cancer. YES!! YES!!! YES!!!. You heard me correctly. No active cancer. I've waited 9 plus years for those words. Cancer treatment is never easy regardless of what treatment plan you are on. It takes a toll on your body. But it teaches you about how important it is to live your best life. My normal is still pretty great!! Just remember, without lungs, you cannot breath and without breathe, you cannot live! Team Pickworth LETs get this done!!!
As I meet so many other Lung cancer survivors, you lose so many more good people to a disease no one should ever have to face because of funding flaws. This is why I fight. Lung cancer in women is on the rise and we don't know why and it needs to stop. Forget the stigma and help me fight!! Donate, walk with me. Speak up. Help!! Every little bit helps and is appreciated!!! As We Team Pickworth members say NO ONE FIGHTS ALONE!!!