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." I was 43 years old. 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 from this when I was young so in my mind, this was the worst news I could have 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. 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 went into fight mode.
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 biomarker called BRAF v600e. Over the last 10 years I have had chemo, radiation, pleurodesis and thoracentesis. I have had 3 progressions and a few lung infections. I now have radiation fibrosis in my upper left lung that makes things a bit tricky at times. I tell everyone fighting cancer is a full-time job. I am currently stable and have been stable off treatment for 10 Months now. I have been very fortunate to be able to take breaks. Not everyone can.
I am one of the lucky ones. Why would I say this? Because most don’t live long enough to say 10 years. I don’t know why I am able to say I have had Lung cancer for 10 years. I was given maybe 12-24 months, but I am grateful. Grateful to see more grandkids, grateful to see graduations and take vacations. I am grateful for the science that makes it all possible. Without the science and without the trials there would only be 1 or 2 options for treatment. That’s it. Without more science the treatment options will come to an end. I am most grateful for my family and friends who have stood by my side through this crazy cancer ride. Without them I couldn’t do everything I have done to date.
Team Pickworth was started almost 10 years ago at the very 1st Lung force walk. Our motto is No One fights alone. Being at a walk with other survivors and caregivers brings hope and support to so many families battling this awful disease.
Over the last 10 years, I have started support groups, started a foundation for my biomarker, been to Washington to fight for more research dollars and to help stop the stigma of smoking and lung cancer.
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 worldwide is enough to take notice. More than 220,000 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 lifetime.
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.
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. 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!!!