By Natalie Brown as told to Kendall Morgan
When at the age of 33 IV. When I was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer, I had to make many difficult decisions quickly, including whether to freeze my eggs before starting treatment or not to have children. We decided to proceed with the treatment immediately. At the beginning of the treatment I felt terrible. I was exhausted and there was little I could do. It took time for them to come to terms with the diagnosis. How I feel mentally still changes from day to day.
Overall, the emotional impact and experience was not what I initially expected. I didn’t expect the treatment to go the way it did. IV is going surprisingly well. section, so let’s start there. But I say emotionally, every treatment is completely different. Sometimes I can go through a treatment and it’s like, “Hey, I’m having chemotherapy.” Sometimes it’s like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I have lung cancer. I can’t believe I have to put poison in my body.”
I have to change my life around the treatment. I will do as much as I can before the medicine kicks in. I am still working and it is very difficult to work and be in treatment at the same time. If I get treatment on Monday, I’ll do my best because by Wednesday or Thursday I won’t feel like going up the stairs.
He’s all over the place emotionally. It’s like a roller coaster. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. A complex combination of emotions with treatment every 3 weeks. I know I’m short for a week, so I’m going to rush and stress. I make sure all clothes are washed. My husband helps, of course, but I want a clean house when I’m in treatment. I run, cook, clean or order food because I don’t feel like cooking. Before the treatment, there is a lot of concern to make sure that everything is perfect. If I don’t do it all, I try to do it the week of treatment and it makes me even more tired. This is when it becomes frustrating.
Sometimes I just stop. Two treatments ago I cried and cried because I was so tired I couldn’t believe I had to deal with this. I cried all week. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, not even on social media. I started. It happens periodically. You’re just so tired. Fatigue weighs on you the most, regardless of how much sleep you get.
I found support through a mentoring program and through the Internet to overcome these emotions. I went to a therapist for the first time in my life. At first I thought I could fix this without professional help, but no. Seeing a therapist helped.
Many of my friends got me books. I tried to read them but I read 20 pages and I just couldn’t do it. I started listening to podcasts and it works better for me. These seem to help. I listen to a lot of music, especially during the treatment weeks. Slow soft music seems to help a bit. I take a bubble bath and have never done one before. Relaxing in a bathtub with candles. This helps a lot.
You have to give him time. I couldn’t talk about it right away as I am now. I had to take time to digest the fact of cancer and then I could share my story. Awareness is extremely important, especially when it comes to lung cancer.
Through it all, I find reasons to celebrate. I will be 35 years old this year. Another birthday, but also a year to celebrate that I’m still here. I celebrate everyone’s birthday. I celebrate the scans. Had a couple of weeks which was really good. I celebrate every little thing. I didn’t do that before cancer. I celebrated birthdays, but not to the extreme. This is very important to me now. It doesn’t have to be anything big. I make any small situation solemn. This experience made me a more positive person. It sounds crazy. You would think the opposite. But I am much more positive about life than before.