REAL LIFE

Battling lung cancer but she’s never smoked

She'd never thought this was the cause of her nasty cough.
Tracey Trumper

Tracey Trumper, 48, Cherrybrook, NSW

Clearing my throat yet again, I realised my cough had been lingering for weeks.

My GP prescribed antibiotics, but a month later I was still run-down.This time my doctor sent me for a CT scan. Having battled breast cancer eight years earlier, I knew what to expect. At the time, I’d opted for a double mastectomy and full hysterectomy to prevent the disease returning.

This time, I was given more devastating news. ‘You’ve got lung cancer,’ my oncologist said.

‘But I’ve never smoked!’ I stammered, certain it was a mistake.

He explained I had a rare form of non-small cell lung cancer caused by the ROS1 gene. It generally affects non-smokers around the age of 50. Worse, a biopsy showed the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes and liver.

Breaking the news to my kids, Renee, then 18, Courtney, 15, and Josh, 13, was so tough. With my husband Mark, 51, by my side, I promised them I’d keep fighting.

As I started chemo to shrink the cancer, my oncologist told me about crizotinib. It’s a drug I could take for the rest of my life that would hopefully keep the cancer at bay.  Sadly it’s not government funded, and at $7400 a month, we couldn’t afford it. So I set up a fundraising page on the Rare Cancers Australia website. Amazingly, over $75,000 has been raised so far. It means I’ll be able to start taking crizotinib as soon as I finish chemo.

During my last check-up, I was told the cancer in my lungs has been reduced by 30 per cent. While it has been a tough journey, I’m determined to stay optimistic. Thanks to the kindness of strangers, I’m confident I can 
kick the cancer for good!

To help Tracey, go to Rare Cancers Australia.

Originally published in that’s life! Issue 40, 2016.

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