Lung Cancer Patient Stories | The Patient Story

Lung Cancer Patient Stories

Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and includes two main types: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which make up about 75- to 75-percent of lung cancer cases, and small cell lung cancer (SCLC), at about 12- to 13-percent.

Explore below for in-depth lung cancer patient stories from our community members who share everything from first symptoms to navigating life with cancer.

Also hear from lung cancer experts, like an oncologist who specializes specifically in all lung cancer cases and talk about developments in targeted therapies that have helped decrease the number of NSCLC deaths in recent years.

Lung Cancer Background

Lung Cancer Treatments

There are new treatment breakthroughs happening for different lung cancer types.

The 12-percent (small cell) is desperately in need of a breakthrough. They’ve been using the same chemotherapy for about 30 years. The first real breakthrough happened in October 2018 when they started adding immunotherapy.

Dr. D. Ross Camidge
Smoking and Stigma

It’s important to note that people with a wide range of smoking backgrounds – no history, some history, history of heavy-smoking, can all develop lung cancer. 

More recently, there have been a growing number of campaigns to raise awareness about lung cancer and how anyone can be impacted. One popular message is, “If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer.”

“It becomes incredibly frustrating as an oncologist when people assume all my patients are smokers. My youngest patient was 14 when she was diagnosed, and people went, ‘Was she a smoker?’ Of course she wasn’t a smoker,” shares Dr. Ross Camidge, a lung cancer oncologist.

That prejudice is a way of removing empathy. We should educate people that that’s actually a very rude question to ask.

Lung Cancer Oncologist

Lung cancer oncologist, Dr. D. Ross Camidge, is an expert in small cell lung cancer and the latest treatments.

In this interview, he details immunotherapy and treatment options, including for EGFR (Osimertinib), ALK (Alectinib), ROS1 (Crizotinib), BRAF (Dabrafenib & Trametinib), and NTRK.

Lung Cancer (Thoracic) Oncologist, Immunotherapy: Dr. D. Ross Camidge | The Patient Story

Dr. D. Ross Camidge, M.D., Ph.D.

Role: Thoracic oncologist, Director of the Thoracic Oncology Clinical Research Programs
Focus: Lung cancer, small cell (Immunotherapy), EGFR (Osimertinib), ALK (Alectinib), ROS1 (Crizotinib), BRAF (Dabrafenib & Trametinib), NTRK
Provider: Univ. of Colorado

Lung Cancer Stories

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Stories

Non-small cell lung cancer makes up about 85- to 95-percent of all lung cancer cases. Explore non-small cell lung cancer stories below.

“Under the umbrella of non-small cell lung cancer, there are now sub-categories based on molecular changes,” Dr. Camidge explains. “That means it’s not just based on what it looks like down the microscope, but if you suck DNA out of the cancer, you can find different mutations that act differently. “

Lung Cancer Stories: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, Invasive Mucinous Adenocarcinoma, Stage 1B

Yovana P., Non-Small Cell, Invasive Mucinous Adenocarcinoma (IMA), Stage 1B

Cancer details: Had no genetic mutations; IMAs comprise between 2-10% of all lung tumors
1st Symptoms:
No apparent symptoms
Lobectomy of the left lung
Lung Cancer Stories: Stage 1B, Neuroendocrine Tumor | Dave Bjork

Dave B., Non-Small Cell, Neuroendocrine Tumor, Stage 1B

Cancer details: Neuroendocrine tumor
1st Symptoms: 2 bouts of severe pneumonia despite full health
Treatment: Lobectomy (surgery to remove lobe of lung)
Lung Cancer Stories: Stage 3A, KRAS+, Recurrence | Terri Conneran

Terri C., Non-Small Cell, KRAS+, Stage 3A

Cancer details: KRAS-positive, 3 recurrences → NED
1st Symptoms: Respiratory problems
Treatment: Chemo (Cisplatin & Alimta), surgery (lobectomy), chemo, microwave ablation, 15 rounds of SBRT radiation (twice)
The White Ribbon Project | Heidi’s Lung Cancer Story

Heidi N., Non-Small Cell, Stage 3A

Cancer details: Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
1st Symptoms: None, unrelated chest CT scan revealed lung mass & enlarged mediastinal lymph nodes
Treatment: Chemoradiation
Lung Cancer Stories: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC), ALK+, Stage 4, Metastatic | Tara’s Story

Tara S., Non-Small Cell, ALK+, Stage 4 (Metastatic)

Cancer details: ALK+ occurs in 1 out of 25 non-small cell lung cancer patients
1st Symptoms:
Numbness in face, left arm and leg
Targeted radiation, targeted therapy (Alectinib)
Lung Cancer Stories: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC), ROS1+, Stage 4 | Lisa’s Story

Lisa G., Non-Small Cell, ROS1+, Stage 4 (Metastatic)

Cancer Details: ROS1+ tends to be aggressive. It can spread to the brain and to the bones.
1st Symptoms: Persistent cough (months), coughing a little blood, high fever, night sweats
Treatment: Chemo (4 cycles), maintenance chemo (4 cycles)
Lung Cancer Stories: Stage 4 Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC), ALK+ Mutation | Stephen’s Story

Stephen H., Non-Small Cell, ALK+, Stage 4 (Metastatic)

Cancer details: ALK+ occurs in 1 out of 25 non-small cell lung cancer patients
1st Symptoms: Shortness of breath, jabbing pain while talking, wheezing at night
Treatment: Targeted therapy (alectinib), stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT)
Lung Cancer Stories: Stage 4, EGFR+, Adenocarcinoma, Targeted Therapies | Ivy Elkins

Ivy E., Non-Small Cell, EGFR+, Stage 4 (Metastatic)

Cancer details: EFGR-positive
1st Symptoms: Pain & stiffness in neck, pain in elbow
Treatment: Two targeted therapies (afatinib & osimertinib), lobectomy (surgery to remove lobe of lung)
Lung Cancer Patient Stories | Ashley’s Story

Ashley R.

Diagnosis: Stage IV Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
1st Symptoms: Tiny nodules in lungs
Treatment: Tagrisso (Osimertinib)
Small Cell Lung Cancer Stories

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is only about 12-percent of lung cancer cases according to Dr. Camidge. Explore small cell lung cancer stories below.

Lung Cancer Stories: Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) | Montessa’s Story

Montessa L., Small Cell Lung Cancer

Cancer details: Small cell lung cancer
1st Symptoms: Chest pain, lingering cough
Treatment: Chemotherapy (Cisplatin switched to carboplatin, etoposide), chest radiation, brain radiation (prophylactic)