Michel was a fit and healthy 42-year-old when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. The father-of-two had been experiencing neck pain, but no other symptoms pointed to any sign of trouble.
I was diagnosed with lung cancer by chance in May 2017. I had a constant pain in my neck and had tried several remedial therapies. I finally went for a neck adjustment, a day later I got wobbly legs, which made me visit my GP. There were no other symptoms that I had to suggest anything like cancer was spreading within me. After many tests, I was diagnosed with non-smoking Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer EGFR positive with Exon 19 Deletion mutation.
Being told that I had a tumour in my spine, that my spine was ready to collapse, and I could be paralysed from the chin down, even die, was very confronting. To then be told I have cancer of the lung knocked me out.
“I was shocked, it’s the last thing you think you will hear. I wasn’t aware you could get lung cancer without smoking.”
Telling my family was tough. I spoke to Jen first and didn’t say anything to my girls in the first few weeks, those were probably the hardest few weeks. I didn’t know my diagnosis, what the journey would be or how long I had.
“My daughters lost their Mum at a young age and I had to tell them that their dad also had a terminal illness. No child should ever have to experience losing a parent at a young age. And unfortunately, my daughters will have to experience it twice.”
I’m one of the fortunate ones – I’m young and I feel healthy and strong and I have a great community of supporters who I love spending time with. Some days I think if it wasn’t for this diagnosis, I may not have made these amazing connections within my community and friends.
Although people look at me and go ‘Michel you look well’, I’m faced every day with this problem that is never going to go away. Every 28 days I see my oncology team, I do every test under the sun and we go righto you get another 28 tickets, let’s go another 28 days. And every day it’s reset.
My experience means I have an intimate understanding about inequality of investment into research and access to treatment and support for people living with lung disease and lung cancer.
“I’m fortunate that a lot of research has been done on the lung cancer mutation I have and there are medications available.”
For me I always think what does a new year bring in terms of treatment and I hope that the way I am leading into Christmas, I come out it the same way, and that I continue to respond to the treatment that I’m on, and that somewhere in the world, someone is coming up with these amazing results and there is hope again for the next journey for us.
“We need to find a way to really fight this.”
Scientific breakthroughs can take years to accomplish but every dollar makes a difference to the lives of people impacted by lung cancer.