It was July 1, 2020, during a global pandemic. I was anxiously sitting in the doctor’s office with my husband waiting for the oncologist to come in, confirm, and provide more details regarding what the thoracic surgeon had previously told me. She walked in with her PA and had this look as if I already knew, but I wasn’t prepared to hear what they had to say. She said a lot of information on this visit but the only thing that I could actually hear her say is: YOU HAVE STAGE 4 Lung Cancer …. I passed out with my eyes open, I could feel myself slightly falling over in the chair and my heart slowly stopping. So many things came to my mind. Was I going to die? How much time did I have left? Had this spread to other parts of my body?
I asked her if I could start chemo that day. She said no because they had to do quite a bit of testing to make sure it was not spreading, etc. I ended up having to wait 4 weeks to start a treatment, which means my anxiety was at an all-time high. I have never in my life dealt with anxiety issues until that day. As we were preparing to leave the doctor’s office, I also began to wonder how I will tell my family and friends that I have Stage 4 lung cancer when I can’t even cope with it myself. As a result, I kept the stage level to myself for a long time because I didn’t want to scare people.
After we left the doctor’s office, we stopped for lunch to get tacos. Tacos are one of my favorite foods, and I couldn’t even eat them. My mind was so messed up. I cried at the restaurant, I cried when I got home, and I continued to cry for the rest of the day. I was so sad and fell into a slight depression because of my stage. There was not anything that anybody could say to me that would make me feel better. I started thinking about writing a will and getting everything in order. I thought life was over for me even though the oncologist did not say that. I still to this very day have flashbacks of her saying Stage 4. Unfortunately, those words will probably stick with me forever.
9 months later, I am thankfully in a better place mentally and physically! I have an amazing support system, have joined support groups, and met people who are going through the same experience that I am going through. My goal is to continue to spread awareness and become the biggest advocate that I can be. I want people to know that staying positive is important, and so is celebrating every win in life.
By Natalie Brown