As you can imagine this came to a complete shock to our family. Being a nurse I knew what stage IV meant and I knew it wasn’t good. Two weeks after being diagnosed I found out I had a mutation called “ALK" driving my cancer. This meant there was a specific medication I could try to help slow the progression of the cancer. “you have a little longer to live!”.
At the time we were ecstatic, weird to be excited about something to do with cancer right?! I delivered my son, Brooks naturally at 30 weeks so I could start taking the medication, Alectinib. Right before and after Brooks was born I was very, very sick. I spent a lot of time in the hospital but the medication began to work. Some of my cancer started to shrink and others remained the same but the most important part was that it wasn’t spreading.
Fast forward 3 years & at the start of summer 2021 I began having lots of back pain. I was exercising daily and just assumed I had pulled a muscle. We moved my routine 3 month CT scan up and it showed no progression (everything appeared stable). I began PT and for a little while my pain improved. Unfortunately, it came back with a vengeance and we decided to do a PET scan. Let’s just say I pretty much lit up like a Christmas tree. In July 2021 I started radiation treatments and finished 10 rounds to my femur, hip, lumbar spine and a rib. We are switching to the next medication that will hopefully target the new cancer and work as well as the last one I’ve been on for 3.5 years.
A dear friend said this to me during treatments: “We walk through fire, it will always burn us. We will melt, hurt, cry and become ashes, but when we see ashes, He sees a new creation. I know now it hurts and burns, but when you come out of the other side, you’ll see that this awkward season was to make you even more like Christ, even more like the Courtney you were always meant to be. Beauty out of ashes”. I'm grateful today for ashes & for beauty. I would never choose cancer, but I believe that I look at the world differently, that I'm a different mother because of it. I soak in the naps with them (especially on days when I need one too!). I study their faces, I take the trips, I go down the water slide with them. I live and I play & I'm not quite sure I would slow each moment the way I do if it weren't for the "c-word".
Unfortunately, lung cancer comes with the stigma of smoking. Many people think you have to have been a smoker for years to “get lung cancer”. And that just is not the case. There are more and more young, healthy never smokers being diagnosed with lung cancer than ever before. Sadly due to the stigma it is the least funded cancer and kills more than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.
I am a part of an amazing ALK Positive organization that involves some wonderful, smart people who too have the same exact type of cancer as me. I am so lucky they have spent countless time and energy on raising money to fund important research projects led by some amazing medical researches and physicians. Without research I will run out of options. Right now on the market, I have another medication I can try once Alectinib fails, and then its chemo. There are some amazing trials and projects in the works right now that could potentially turn this terminal illness into a chronic disease. This is HUGE. But we need your help. We need to continue to fund these projects so they can be available for us to use. Please if you are able to donate anything towards lung cancer research I would appreciate it more than you know.
"I was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer in January of 2018 at the age of 27. I was 27 weeks pregnant with my second little boy..."
So, motherhood for me is a bit different than it is for all mothers. I live each day with the same frustrations, doing the same laundry & helping the same booboos as all moms, but I'm living with Stage IV Cancer.
About a month prior to my diagnosis I began to develop severe abdominal pain. My doctors kept telling me I was in pain because I was pregnant, but I knew otherwise.
After a CT Scan, we were told that the cancer was in my lungs, liver, bones, and my lymph nodes. My first born had just turned two and I had another healthy baby boy on the way, this wasn't really happening?
Brooks spent 72 days in the NICU. It was a very difficult time for our family but we are so blessed with such an amazing support system of friends and family that helped and continue to help us get through.
We’ve always known the medication wouldn’t last forever but it hit pretty hard when we first found out it was no longer doing it’s job.
Any amount big or small goes towards extending my life and so many others just like me."
Motherhood looks different for everyone, but for me, it means that I've been given the gift to mother each day-- and I take it. Every time.