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Shock & Confusion

Alix’s Story

It started with a cough in March 2021, which didn’t go away. I tested for covid, but it was negative, I assumed I would get better and lived with it. In April, to join the cough, my lymph nodes in my neck and chest became very swollen and sore. My neck was painful and I started to realise I must be quite unwell. I went to my GP, did blood tests and it was decided it must be a chest infection – I started a course of antibiotics. After the antibiotics I wasn’t any better. So, I contacted my new GP and they prescribed more antibiotics along with an X-ray.

After a few rounds of antibiotics, I was told the cough would go away, but it didn’t. I started to get really bad at this point – I’d lost around 10kg, I was struggling with breathlessness, was unable to breathe well, night sweats and the cough had become productive. At this point I decided enough was enough and spoke with my GP. Finally, I was asked to go into the doctors surgery, and once they had seen me I was referred to the hospital for a CT scan.

I never thought I would get cancer at the age of 28, let alone lung cancer.

I’ve never been a smoker and I had no idea young, healthy people could get lung cancer – until it happened to me.

Before I was diagnosed, cancer wasn’t something that had been in my life. I’d known of people who had cancer, but I didn’t know much about it. I was probably quite ignorant in my understanding of what cancer can look like. I thought, like many others, that people who smoke get lung cancer. A disease that happens to you because of smoking. This perception no longer stood when it happened to me. I was 28 and one of the few people in my life that has never been interested in smoking – and I’m also the one with lung cancer. We all have lungs and that’s all you need to get lung cancer.

Family and friends have been very supportive.

They have found the diagnosis shocking and upsetting but, they are always there to help me through the ups and downs of living with cancer.

My partner has been my biggest support through my diagnosis. Whenever I have bad days, he’s always there to help. I don’t know if I would have been able to have been so strong or positive without him.

This kind of diagnosis feels impossible at times and to have people to help you back up on those bad days is so important.

Strangers react in strange ways.

I’ve been asked some odd questions when I tell someone I have lung cancer. Whether that’s the person doing my flu jab or someone in my home.

I’ve been asked “did you smoke?” and even “did you work with asbestos?” which both put some kind of blame on me for having cancer, and aren’t very sensitive questions to ask someone with lung cancer.

Being diagnosed with a rare cancer has been hard.

For me, finding support from others who understand your experience and can offer their own advice has been vital. Being diagnosed with a rare cancer has been hard and can feel quite isolating, especially at a younger age. I found online groups with people who have the same type of lung cancer has helped me to learn much more about my cancer, my treatment. It has also given me a space to bounce around any questions I might have.

Anybody with lungs can get lung cancer, it really can happen to anyone.

It’s so important to listen to your body, don’t ignore a new and persistent cough and don’t ignore pain. Speak with your GP and get it checked.

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