Awareness • Early Detection • Treatment • Research • Survivorship

Heather Geraghty is Changing the Face of Lung Cancer

On Dec. 28, 2010, I was told I had lung cancer. It didn’t seem possible. I was only 24!

Early in December I had experienced persistent chest pain that ultimately led me to my local Emergency Room. I received a CT Scan that showed a mass in the middle lobe of my right lung. On December 28, 2010 after a series of non-surgical procedures it was determined to be lung cancer.

On Jan. 20, 2011 Dr. Joel Cooper of University of Pennsylvania Hospital removed two-thirds of my right lung.

Before my surgery I had 23 of the longest days of my life knowing that I was living with cancer.

After surgery, those who had surrounded me returned to their daily routines. But I was left wondering, “How could this happen to me?” I thought to myself over and over, “What if I never found out? Would I still have lung cancer right now?”

My lung cancer seemed to come and go so quickly from my life, and when it was gone I didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt alone, I couldn’t talk to anyone because nobody could relate to me. I felt scared, not only had I gone through painful surgery but I didn’t want the cancer to come back.

My friends didn’t understand, which made it difficult to talk to them about any aspect of my cancer. This was the first time in my life that I felt completely helpless. Simple tasks such as sitting up in bed, walking from one room to the next and taking a deep breath were significantly difficult after surgery.

Even now, many days, it doesn’t seem real, and I don’t want to believe that I ever had lung cancer.

This disease has changed my whole perspective on life, which has forced me to refuse to take anything for granted. Since learning of my diagnosis, I have been horrified to find that there is little known about this cancer. However, the smoking stigma overwhelms society’s view.