Tag Archive for: Stage IIIA Non-Small Lung Cancer

If You Have Lungs, You Can Get Lung Cancer: Teri’s Story

If You Have Lungs, You Can Get Lung Cancer: Teri’s Story from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Lung cancer patient Teri shares her experience with stage IIIA non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Watch as she discusses the symptoms she experienced, her extended journey to diagnosis, and key learnings that kept her on the path to empowerment.

See More from Best Lung Cancer Care

Related Resource:

How Can I Get the Best Lung Cancer Care?

Stage IV Metastatic NSCLC Shares Key Learnings on Her Journey

Lung Cancer Treatment Landscape Overview


​​My name is Teri, and I was diagnosed with stage IIIA non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in June of 2018. My lung cancer diagnosis was delayed as I was helping my mom deal with her own lung cancer journey.

My journey to diagnosis started with severe abdominal pain that was diagnosed as diverticulitis. During my hospital stay for abdominal pain, my scan showed a spot on one lung. In retrospect, I should not have brushed this off, but I wasn’t concerned since I’d never been a smoker. Almost a year later, I had a CT scan that showed my nodules had grown, and I was referred to an oncologist.

My surgery was scheduled to remove the middle and lower portions of my right lung, as each had a large mass. The weekend before surgery, I wanted to find my “baseline” for activity level. So I hiked, rode my bicycle, gardened, and kayaked with no indication that ANYTHING was wrong. My oxygen level was always 100 percent, and my energy level felt normal.

My surgery was successful, and I came away with clear margins and nothing found in my surrounding lymph nodes. I had several rounds of chemo following my surgery and had scans done every 6 months. However at the one-year mark, there were signs of recurrence. 

I felt ready to continue with my life but needed to get the remaining upper lobe removed. My surgeon told me the surgery would be “a morbidly serious procedure.” He said this three times during a single appointment.

The surgery was successful, but I had many “morbidly serious” incidents. I made it through with my husband’s amazing support.

Today, I lead a very full and active life with one lung. I am currently cancer-free. My desire is to be a support person for newly diagnosed lung cancer patients. I want to be a ray of hope for other patients so that they know they are not alone.

Some things that I learned during my lung cancer journey include:

  •   Pay attention when unusual lab results or scans come back even if you’re a non-smoker.
  •   Energy levels will not always be an accurate gauge of cancer in your body.
  •   My husband was an incredible source of support during my lung cancer journey.
  •   I am happy to share my story if it helps even one person feel they are not alone.

These actions are key to staying on your path to empowerment.

Stage IIIA Non-Small Lung Cancer Survivor Shares Importance of Listening To Your Body

Stage IIIA Non-Small Lung Cancer Survivor Shares Importance of Listening To Your Body from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Lung cancer survivor Terri has had a long journey to her diagnosis. A “tiny” spot on her lung was initially dismissed and eventually led to her diagnosis a decade later with stage IIIA non-small lung cancer. Learning her tumor was KRAS-positive allowed her to make the most informed treatment decisions for her lung cancer. Watch as she shares her journey and advice for taking control of your health and getting the best care.

Terri’s advice, “Hope shared is hope multiplied. Take control of your journey and get connected. These actions are key to staying on your path to empowerment.”


My name is Terri. I live in Charlotte, North Carolina.  In 2017, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. 

Nearly a decade prior to my diagnosis, I went in for a routine physical. Checking the lungs, the medical staff said they heard something. I was sent for a scan and upon closer inspection, the radiologist confirmed there was a “tiny” spot. The expert who interpreted my results said “there is nothing to worry about, but you might want to follow up on that at some point.” I never pushed, nobody pushed.

 With both experts not concerned, I was relieved. I was too busy with my life and family to worry about “nothing.” I just let it go and began taking the newly prescribed asthma medication.  

Several years later,  I found myself struggling to breathe in humidity.  At first, I thought I was just out of shape, but it persisted. Maybe my asthma was just out of control? Thinking it was allergies, I began feeling worse, lasting the entire summer. My inner voice told me there was something more going on.  Ignoring it through the Autumn,  because I didn’t want something minor to slow me down, I pushed my body until I was nearly ready to collapse from this sinus infection. 

At Christmas, I headed back to the doctor’s office where she could hear the fluid in my lungs. The fluid highlighted a suspicious mass in the scan. Those last few weeks couldn’t pass quickly  enough for my January appointment with a specialist.

January came, and I saw the pulmonologist for closer examination. I’ll never forget his words, “I see CT scans  in and out every day and if I thought this was lung cancer, I’d tell you right now.” I immediately thought about the radiologist who saw the “tiny” spot years earlier and dismissed it as nothing. A few weeks later a biopsy confirmed my worst fears. It was indeed a diagnosis of stage IIIA non-small cell lung cancer.

My oncologist presented my case before a tumor board of experts where they confirmed I had KRAS-positive lung cancer.  This lung cancer biomarker test guided my treatment path.  Learning my tumor was KRAS-positive allowed me to make the most informed treatment decisions for my lung cancer. The best course for me at the time was chemo, followed by a lobectomy

Since then, I’ve had other treatments with new outbursts of lung cancer and continue to get regular scans. I can’t go back to the original ”tiny” spot, but what I learned is, “You either fight, or you die.” I had to accept what I couldn’t change and change what I could. 

As a full-time lung cancer advocate, I want to ensure patients feel confident to speak up and ask questions when in doubt and make sure no one feels as alone like I did at the start of my lung cancer journey.  My advice to other lung cancer patients:

  • Tune into your body and listen
  •  Ask the questions to learn from your healthcare team
  •  Take control of your journey
  • Connect with others that have a similar diagnosis, to learn & share

Hope shared is hope multiplied. I’ve made it my mission to empower others by sharing my story. Take control of your journey and get connected.

 These actions are key to staying on your path to empowerment.