She hid her diagnosis from her kids on Christmas Day: ' I didn’t want to ruin their Christmas'
Terri Conneran hid her diagnosis from her children on Christmas Day.
Terri Conneran had lived with asthma for a decade before developing serious breathing problems. Conneran, who was 55 at the time, tells Yahoo Life that she had particular trouble breathing normally in hot, humid weather.
"It became harder to breathe," she says. "I went back and forth to my doctors eight to ten times in two years." According to Conneran, the doctors kept changing their asthma medications and listening to their lungs, "but we didn't follow up."
"Because of the asthma, they told me," We're going to give the new drug some time to work, "or" It's probably allergies, "she says. Eventually, during the 2016 holiday season, Conneran said she felt" so sick. "
So she went back to her doctor and assumed she needed antibiotics for an infection. "I was expecting to have a cold or something, but my doctors said they could hear a lot of fluid in my lungs," she says. Conneran was diagnosed with pneumonia and requested a chest x-ray. Conneran says the diagnosis saved her life - it helped doctors clearly see a tumor in her lungs.
"I had so much fluid that you could see the tumor there - tumors usually just hide," she says. Conneran was being treated for pneumonia while her doctors ordered additional tests right after the vacation.
Conneran wasn't sure if she had cancer, but doctors suspected it. It was just before Christmas, and Conneran decided to keep the news a secret from her family - only her husband knew. "I didn't want to ruin your Christmas," she says. She waited until the new year to share what she knew.
"I was totally scared," recalls Conneran. “I wanted to see and speak to someone who's been through what I've been through, what's ahead of me, and know that there's another side. I really needed to talk to someone. "
During the first week of January 2017, Conneran went through four different scans and a biopsy to get a correct diagnosis. At one point, she was told it didn't look like cancer. But when the biopsy results came back it was official: she had lung cancer. "It was one of those out-of-body moments," says Conneran.
Terri Conneran believed her asthma symptoms were getting worse. The doctors told her it was cancer.
Conneran didn't sleep very well that night. "I woke up and my chest was heavy," she says. "I fell. My arm killed me. I thought I was just stressed out, but my husband insisted on taking me to the emergency room. "
When she was there, the doctors found that her lungs were full of fluids. "I had a bad reaction to the biopsy and drowned in fluid," she says. Conneran was hospitalized with two liters of fluid drained from her lungs. She also found out that she had stage 3 lung cancer.
The doctors set a course of treatment for her: she would have the lower lobe of her left lung removed and chemotherapy. The treatment was successful and the cancer was gone - but it did not stay away.
Conneran had no illness for nearly two years, but since then she has had three recurrences that resulted in radiation and ablation, a type of minimally invasive operation to destroy abnormal tissue.
Conneran has also got involved in the lung cancer community. She is a board member of the Dusty Joy Foundation, which hosts support groups for lung cancer, and the director and founder of KRAS Kickers, a group for people with their specific cancer. "I want to give something back and help other people," she says. "It's so important that people can talk about it."
“At the moment I have no signs of illness. I don't take daily therapy, nothing, ”says Conneran. Instead, she says, her doctors treat her cancer "like Whack-a-Mole".
"I've responded very well to treatment, chemotherapy, and radiation," she says. "Statistically, it will come back. But all I know is to keep procrastinating and keep living and moving. A moving target is harder to hit."
Conneran urges other lung cancer patients to know that others are going through the same thing. "You are not alone," she says. “Hope shared is hope multiplied. Access and connect. "
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