Real Patients. Real Stories.

Our community of lung cancer fighters and survivors are changing statistics. Read empowering stories below and become part of our community today.

Meet Diane.

At age fifty-six, I woke up in the middle of the night coughing blood. I immediately went to the emergency room for an X-ray and a CT scan and received a brusque report: “I am so sorry. You have lung cancer.” I was left alone to contemplate what this meant for me.

I had no previous symptoms of cancers of the lung. I was in shock. 

A pulmonologist came in to offer a second opinion and offered to run a biopsy to verify the first doctor’s findings. The biopsy was conducted a week later, and because of where my tumor was located, they had to puncture through the muscle tissues, cartilage, and the outside wall of the lung into the area where my tumor was. They had to do this not once but twice to get a sample. It was the worst pain I had ever felt in my life – even worse than it would be having a lung removed. 

The biopsy results confirmed the worst; it was lung cancer. I had a 3.6-centimetre tumor in my upper left lung. I named my tumor Wally Walnut because it was the size of a walnut and had a lobectomy of my upper left lobe within 3 weeks of confirmed diagnosis. 

My second diagnosis came less than a year after my initial diagnosis. It happened after I came back from my three-month check-up with my thoracic surgeon. I had a growing pain near the right side of my groin, and we had initially thought it was because I pulled a muscle while exercising. Eventually, the pain grew so much that I got another biopsy done. We found two more tumors who I named: Lizzy and Liza lymph nodes.

I went from stage 1B to stage 4. I was presented with two options: radiation or surgery. If I went through with surgery, there was an 80% chance that I could lose the use of my leg. I opted for ten rounds of radiation instead. Thankfully, it resolved my issues. Now the tumors are just two pieces of charcoal rattling around in my leg.

My third diagnosis was a brain tumor in 2019. I found out I had a brain tumor when I was taken to one of the few medical clinics in Banff after losing the peripheral vision in my left eye at an event. I called this tumor Marshmallow Morgan. I am fortunate that it took only 3 stereotactic radiation treatments to destroy my tumor, most people are not so lucky.

I started my self-advocacy in 2012 because I wanted to address gaps I saw in the health care system, as well as the misinformation surrounding cancers of the lung. Shortly after being diagnosed with a cancer of the lungs, I met someone who told me that I deserved to have cancer of the lungs because I used to smoke. This made me question why there was still a stigma attached to cancers of the lungs because of smoking.  The research clearly shows that cancers of the lungs are very complex, and unique, with by some estimates 100 distinct types and many not related to smoking. 

I’m motivated to be an advocate because I know that lung cancer patients struggle to find accurate information online and suffer from unacceptable, and often misleading, stigmas. That’s why I started the Unmasking the Reality of Lung Cancer Society, a charitable organization that seeks to empower and educate current and future lung cancer patients. We also create educational tools including a booklet for doctor’s offices, available in eight different languages, to help people navigate the system and learn the reality of cancer of the lungs.  

My message to people considering joining our advocacy efforts is the same one I use as the tagline for my organization: “everyone can be a pebble that creates the avalanche of change.” I want people to know there is a higher cause for our work, which will help people get access to the care and treatment they need to make cancer of the lungs an inconvenience, not a death sentence. Everyone deserves a full and happy life. Everyone can be a pebble. I hope you will come be part of my avalanche. 

Meet MaryAnn.

My story began in 2014 when I was fifty-nine years old. I kept complaining to my doctor about feeling pain on the left side of my neck. Due to my age and weight, I thought I had heart issues. As a result, my doctor ordered multiple heart investigations and they all came back negative. Despite this, the pain continued for over six months. I had tried a range of treatments from over-the-counter medicine to heat compression, and nothing was alleviating the pain.

One day the pain became unbearable, so I decided to go to the emergency department. When I met with the cardiologist, I explained that I had multiple heart investigations to discern the cause of my neck pain, but the tests came back normal. That day, the hospital booked me as an inpatient and began running scans on my chest.

A few days later, the doctor was waiting for me in the hospital room and said, “MaryAnn I must tell you something. Your admitting x-ray shows a shadow which I believe is lung cancer.” I was completely shocked. It was confirmed the next day when they did a CAT scan and found a 2.5-centimeter lesion in the upper right lobe of my right lung. Afterward, I had surgery to remove the lesion and have received routine checkups ever since.

I hope that sharing my story will encourage everyone to listen to their bodies and get screened for lung cancer early. I am especially concerned for working moms who are always on the go and not taking the time to listen to their bodies. Please take care of yourself and get your symptoms examined by a doctor as soon as possible. To those fighting lung cancer, I want to say: have hope and keep fighting. Please don’t give up the fight. I have seen people diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and told they have six months to live but survive for many more years.

Finally, I understand people’s hesitation with screening because of the stigmatization around smoking. I would encourage people to get proactively screened and have a baseline on their lung health. How amazing would it be if one could find lung cancer early and treat it before it gets to stage four? If you are at risk for lung cancer, please see your doctor and ask about lung cancer screening. If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer. It’s that simple.

*Lung cancer patients and caregivers are encouraged to join MaryAnn Bradley’s private Facebook group for lung cancer support and advocacy, Canadian Lung Cancer Advocacy – Breathe Hope.

Meet Debi.

My story started in 2010 when I saw a small ad in our local Ottawa newspaper recruiting volunteers to participate in a lung cancer study. My father had lung cancer, and things had not gone well for him.  Even though I had quit smoking 13 years prior, I knew I was susceptible due to the genetic link, and I wanted to get involved with the study to learn more.   

To participate in the study, I had to answer several questions and scored high enough to be onboardedUnfortunately, during my participation, we found a small lesion in my right lung that was cancerous.     

Meeting with an oncologist for the first time was surreal. I was thankful the doctors caught the lesion in its early stages, and because of that, I qualified for surgery with a promising outcome. I had my operation on Valentine’s Day in 2011, and it was a non-invasive video-assisted surgery. I left the hospital with only four tiny stitches. 

Nearly 10 years after my diagnosis, I feel lucky to advocate for the lung cancer community because I have my health and I can. To those who are currently fighting lung cancer, I urge you to find whatever hope looks like to you and remember that advancements are being made to improve survivorship all the time. Finally, I understand the fear people may have with screening due to the stigmatization around smoking. It’s real, it still exists, but you don’t deserve cancer. You deserve this opportunity to reclaim your life. It is essential to take care of your health. Do it for your family. Do it for yourself. 

Meet Kim.

My name is Kim MacIntosh and I am a mother to two loving girls, a former psychiatric nurse and now, a lung cancer fighter.

I am so thankful for the fantastic doctors I have been given here in Ottawa and for the support I have received from patient and caregiver groups across North America. Because of these groups, I have gained incredible knowledge about my own lung cancer diagnosis which has allowed me to be my own advocate.

To put it bluntly, I would not be standing here today without innovative therapies or lung cancer research. It is my hope that my story can help inspire others to advocate for innovative therapies – because this pivotal research saves lives. Click the video to hear my story. 

Click the video to hear my story. For more patient stores here.

With heavy hearts, Kimberley Ann MacIntosh’s family has announced that Kimberley passed peacefully in her home on November 17, 2021, at the age of 54, after a brave four-and-a-half-year battle with stage-four lung cancer. She was surrounded by her husband, two daughters and two siblings.
Kim was renowned and admired for her mental health advocacy, successful, nearly 30-year nursing career, and lung-cancer advocacy. Her absence is felt by co-workers, the mental health community, her lung-cancer advocacy sisters and brothers, and the countless others she inspired and befriended over the  with her kindness; spirited, no-nonsense approach to life; and fierce determination in all pursuits.
She was loved, admired and cherished by family and friends and will be dearly missed. 

Meet Diane.

My name is Diane Chalifoux and I am a lung cancer fighter.

I remember the day my doctor told me I had lung cancer, it felt like I had been slapped in the face. It was 2017 and I had been experiencing severe back pain, so bad that it forced me to quit my job. After seeing my doctor and undergoing a number of tests, the diagnosis shocked me – stage 3 lung cancer. All I remember after that is the tears that came along with my diagnosis: how was I going to tell my family, my friends?

Initially, I was given traditional treatment options of chemotherapy and radiation. This took a toll on my health, but I knew it was an important first step in my fight. When my doctor later introduced a new treatment option, I was instantly optimistic.

Since starting immunotherapy I have energy again – I was even able to go back to work two days a week. Getting back to myself and my life has been so important to me and it would not have been possible without my incredible doctors and nurses, the support from my friends and family, and the amazing treatment options that are slowly becoming available for lung cancer patients like me.

People always ask me, what does survivorship mean? Lung cancer survivorship means another opportunity to live my life, to do the little things like spending time with my loved ones. I will never stop fighting for these little moments; it is my hope that with new treatments like immunotherapy, others will join this fight with me.

Click the video to hear my story.  For more patient stories, click here.

In their own words.

When I was initially diagnosed with Stage III lung cancer on November 28, 2018, my wife and I were in complete and utter shock. I was visiting my doctor to get my annual flu shot when I mentioned a small cough. As a healthy and active 74-year-old male, who had never smoked before, lung cancer had never crossed my mind. That day, my doctor found a mass under my left lung. From there, everything moved very quickly. I began radiation on January 8th and had two chemotherapy treatments within six weeks. It was my intention to remain positive, to look at my life as a sNegeries of ups and downs. My wife, a lymphoma survivor, is familiar with the process and greatly helped keep me optimistic. It was not until March 7 that the cancer diagnosis really hit us. I had finished my first series of treatments and went for a CT scan. Although the original mass had shrunk, I had additional spots on both lungs. I have now progressed to Stage IV. I am determined to remain optimistic. My wife, my loving family, and I are thinking short-term and are enjoying the moment. I have always lived to the fullest- I have been an active member of my community, I have always enjoyed golfing, hiking, and spending time with my extended family. As I continue onto the next stage, immunotherapy, we are maintaining our positive outlook on life. There is much more for me yet, and I am not giving up.
1 year ago, I was diagnosed with stage 3C lung cancer. Having had such a cancer 10 years ago, I must admit that it would have been more difficult for me; little hope. However, after chemotherapy and radiotherapy, I am now doing immunotherapy and I must say that frankly it really gives "a chance". Why? The immune system does not recognize cancer cells. This new treatment helps the immune system to target cancer cells and destroy them. My immunotherapy treatment, every fortnight for 1 year, lasts about an hour and I have almost no side effects. Currently, a pharmaceutical company exempts me. In my opinion, immunotherapy is expected to become a first-line treatment as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy in the case of lung cancer. I think it is imperative that our governments invest in this kind of treatment for its citizens and encourage research. I am convinced that immunotherapy in combination with other treatments is the future for treating, slowing, and even curing different types of cancer. I also want to say that a doctor told me that having cancer in one's life is becoming more and more common, so it's important to take action. I will add that my relatives tell me that I look better since I started my treatments. Obviously, I do not know what the future holds for me, but I know that I have a better chance of getting out of it or at least controlling my cancer with a quality of life with the addition of immunotherapy. So I'm much more confident than I could have been 10 years ago.
When I was diagnosed with lung cancer, I was told that I was at stage 3C and that I had a mass "with a lot of volume". I then started chemotherapy treatments, I made 4 in total of a duration of 5:30 for each treatment. Then I did not less than 30 sessions of radiotherapy. Following a meeting with my medical specialist, I was offered to do immunotherapy, treatment that I started in August 2018. Honestly, I find that with this treatment, I'm still good. I obviously have side effects (chills, fatigue, sensitive skin, etc.), but this is nothing like those caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I have about a dozen treatments to do and I think it helps a lot to prevent the progression of my cancer. If my testimony can help others in their decision making, then all the better.
I was diagnosed with lung cancer in March 2018. It's been 1 year since I have a non-operable and stage 3B cancer. I did several chemotherapy treatments (14 times) and radiotherapy (30 times), but my cancer had not decreased much. In early June of last year, I started immunotherapy treatments, because I could not do any more radiotherapy. At the moment, my treatments are fine, it acts more on my tumor than previous treatments. I have side effects (fatigue, headaches and nausea), but they are very different from those caused by chemotherapy or radiotherapy. I remain positive despite my cancer and I thank my daughter for being with me and helping me make my decision to give immunotherapy a chance.

Share your story.

How has lung cancer impacted you? What does survivorship mean to you? Share your story. Lung cancer patients have the right to become cancer survivors.  We want to hear from you.  

My story starts two years ago when I began having trouble coughing, so much so that it felt like I was going to break a rib. I immediately went to a respiratory doctor, where I was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The cough went away and so did my concern. In January of 2019 I coughed up blood. I drove to the emergency department where I got a regular x-ray and was referred to a CT scan within the next few days. Through the CT scan the doctors found a mass in my lungs. In February, I was diagnosed with Stage III lung cancer. I am a proactive individual- my mother had colon and breast cancer- I have been having scans since I turned 40. I am always on top of my tests. If there had been a more readily available and accessible option for lung cancer screening, I would have taken it. My family was absolutely devastated when I told them the news. I just recently retired and bought a beautiful home. My first grandchild will be born in May. Life was going according to plan and then I was hit with this road block. With lung cancer, as with any cancer, you go through the initial stages of shock and grief. But I have accepted this obstacle and I am optimistic and prepared to fight my way back to health.
My caregiver journey begins and ends with helping my 52-year-old husband fight lung cancer. In July, my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer through a routine chest x-ray when they found what appeared to be a mass. After several specialists’ appointments and tests, the doctors confirmed he had small-non cell cancer which was also in his lymph nodes. He was very close to stage 4. We were immediately referred to an oncologist and a radiation oncologist. They decided to do radical chemo and radiation. My husband was one of the lucky ones to not have a lot of side effects from his treatment. Towards the end of his radiation he suffered a set back of severe pain in his throat. He was unable to swallow, eat or drink. We called the REACT clinic and they immediately arranged for a nurse to come out for 6 days to provide IV hydration. He also lost his hair but to us that was minor. He is now on an immunotherapy trial drug. His latest CT scan showed no signs of cancer in his lymph node (yay!) as well his tumour in the lung has shrunk considerably and is now dormant! He still has the trial drug every 2 weeks until January of 2020. We are both very optimistic this will lead to an even greater out come.
In August 2018 I was diagnosed with Stage III lung cancer. I immediately underwent chemo, radiation, and surgery. To date, I have had two CT scans and they show no new signs of cancer. As a result of my surgery, which included the removal of my top four ribs and the upper right lobe of my lung, I experience a lot of nerve pain. I find taking several supplements, eating a healthy diet, and walking and taking rests during the day help to control the pain. It may be up to two years before I sense any diminishing of the pain. In the meantime, I keep active, walk about 4 km a day and keep a positive attitude towards life. I am so grateful for good treatment and for a wonderful medical team of doctors. My husband has been and continues to be a wonderful caregiver, great support, and super encourager as we walk this journey!
I was diagnosed with a brain tumour and was at risk of the swelling pressing against my brain. The surgery was successful. However, days later I was told it wasn’t my primary cancer. It turned out I also have lung cancer. I had just had a chest x-ray only a month earlier. Unfortunately my tumour was not operable. I underwent gamma knife treatments to my brain, 30 radiation treatments to my lung & 3 double dose chemo. I thought I was beating the battle. Only to find out months later that I had a new brain tumour, as well as a tumour on the right lung which was luckily quite small. I then had another gamma knife surgery along with four sessions of targeted radiation. My previous x-rays were clearly not enough to locate my lung cancer, for had my lung cancer been discovered earlier I may have a chance at a long life. My life expectancy is less than a year. I will, however, fight with everything I have.
In 2007, I was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma, bone cancer in my right shoulder. I had surgery to have the bone removed, which went remarkably well. The only thing about this type of cancer is that while it wouldn't come back in my shoulder, it could come back elsewhere - my lungs. I was diagnosed with COPD ten years ago, and after a couple years, my orthopaedic surgeon sent me for an x-ray on my back, and a spot was noticed in my left lung. After having it monitored for a while, a second spot was found which raised concern with my lung surgeon. In August 2018, I was on my way to surgery to have a lingering done: meaning I had the upper part of my lung removed, without a biopsy. It was a good thing the surgeon removed that part of my lung, along with some lymph nodes because the lung diagnosis came back as having been a low grade sarcoma. Thank god the lymph nodes were clear. I'm just starting to feel a bit better most recently, especially after having pneumonia twice in the last ten months. One of the better things that has happened since then was that I quit smoking before the surgery, and haven't touched a cigarette since! It was and still is a tough road to recovery. It takes a great medical team and a personal support team keep you positive. While we may have many days where we just want to throw our hands in the air, it's important to remain positive and never give up fighting! Best wishes for any and every one that has a challenge thrown at them from that ugly ol cancer. Fight, fight, fight. Never lay down, don't give up!
In March 2018 I was in a car accident. My accident led to a scan which identified a nodule that had doubled in size over the winter. I had a biopsy which determined that I had NSCLC at Stage II. I am very fortunate: I have such a strong network of friends and already had a strong network of doctors due to my COPD. The surgeon did not want to operate, his mantra was ""do no harm"", mainly he was concerned that he could not get all of it. I was then referred to a cancer clinic where I underwent four radiation treatments. The tumour has since shrunk, there could just be scar tissue left, making me a survivor! One of the side effects to my treatments was potential ribs breaking or disintegrating. I have had one break, this was very painful, but other than that I have had no problems. I am healing and on a 6 month review track! I am still able to go to Arizona for the winter, which I do! My oncologist and my respirologist are both so supportive - it just restores your faith in the health care system and in people. God Bless them one and all! Although my journey is not complete I feel confident that together I will beat cancer! I have a friend who is a pathologist and he helped me with my research and even reviewed my biopsy results, and then took the time to explain my cancer and my available treatments! Awesome man! Such a big support! He explained immunotherapy to me and what I would have to do to be able to have immunotherapy treatment! I would like to add that the things we do to ourselves in our mind about the word cancer is quite frightening! I was lucky enough to have a counsellor at my cancer clinic who was very helpful to me: she understood my fear to talk, she expedited my treatment schedule because when you have cancer, you can almost feel it growing. It is so important to have a good system of support around you to guide you through your cancer journey.

Meet Bonnie.

In April of 2016, at 70 years young, I was rushed to the hospital with what I thought was a heart attack. After many tests, it was decided that I had a gall bladder attack and my heart was fine. However, during the ultrasound a spot was discovered on my left lung. My diagnosis took four days and my doctors found I was in the very early stages of lung cancer.

Despite having quit smoking 20 years earlier, my cancer seemed to be growing at an alarming rate. I was sent to a marvellous surgeon who wanted to remove my cancer immediately. After my microscopic surgery I spent only two weeks in the hospital. At home, I was absolutely amazed at how little pain or discomfort I felt.

Soon, I will be celebrating my one year anniversary cancer free. I feel fabulous! I cannot thank my doctors enough for all the wonderful care I received. I am one very luck lady who has come home to enjoy the rest of my life! 

I am one of the lucky survivors, at least for now. It has been ten years since I was diagnosed with lung cancer and although I am not cancer free, I am still here. My journey with lung cancer began in 2008 when a spot was found on my right lung. I have endured surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation but continue to believe that exercise, the right food, and a good attitude has aided my journey.
It took me four years of radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy, but I am now in a healing process from all the drugs! Unfortunately, you don’t get cleared of lung cancer and the next day jump back to who you were before. My cancer journey is a long 4 years of events which has changed my life, and of course, my whole outlook on life! So many people have been inspired in that I survived stage 4!!!
March 31, 2018. This is the day that I was diagnosed with lung cancer, and it is a day that continues to haunt me. 40 years prior to my diagnosis I had quit smoking cold turkey. I was completely shocked at the diagnosis as I had only visited the clinic due to a small cough. Then, I began coughing up blood. I rushed to the ER where the doctor told me I had a large mass in my right lung: cancer. From May 2018 to September 2018 I was in and out of hospital due to the side effects from chemotherapy. I had both a blood and a platelet transfusion. Radiation burned my esophagus and I had a feeding tube for six weeks. I was exhausted, and I knew I needed a change. On September 5, 2018 I began immunotherapy. This gave me the hope and strength I needed to keep pushing forward. As I continue this journey, I am ever more grateful for my sister, and my family and friends who have given me great moral support. I will continue to stay positive and to live life cherishing each day. One thing that stays with me is the knowledge that I had been living with lung cancer for a long time before it was discovered. If annual check ups included chest X-rays my cancer would have been caught early and my story might be a lot different.
My name is Jasna and I am a lung cancer survivor. My cancer was caught and diagnosed at a very early stage, almost accidentally. At the time, I felt healthy. I was active, kept incredibly busy as the mother of three girls, and was presenting no symptoms whatsoever. Undergoing annual testing for tuberculosis is a requirement for my job. A routine x-ray revealed a shadow on my chest; out of an abundance of caution, my doctor ordered more tests. They saved my life. Thanks to both an early diagnosis, a supportive workplace, and the rapid action taken by my medical team, a single surgery was all I needed. I had a hugely successful VATS lobectomy that prevented the cancer from spreading. I didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation; I didn’t have to bear the pain and fear that too often go hand in hand with that course of treatment. I feel incredibly blessed to have realized a result like this—but I know that for every case like mine, there are several that end on a much sadder note. They say there is a five-year survival rate for lung cancer. But that statistic isn’t what I’m focusing on. I’m cancer-free. I’m surrounded by the love and laughter of friends and family. But above all, I’m much more than a statistic. I have a name. My name is Jasna. I am a lung cancer survivor.
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