Awareness • Early Detection • Treatment • Research • Survivorship

Madeline Borrouso – Changing the Face of Lung Cancer

I have lived in New Orleans all of my life. I love it here. I am 66 years old and grew up with a large family, 4 brothers and 1 sister. When my children ask me what I did for fun as a child, I tell them I played ball. That is all we did for fun, the whole neighborhood would get together and play ball. And on Saturdays I would get together with some girl friends and go to Canal Street to shop and sometimes go to the show. We may have had $2.00 each, but could still have a good time, it is one of my fondest memories. I would not want to live anywhere else.

My husband and I had a catering hall for weddings and banquets, we did really well. I did all of the food and catering that was needed. We had the business since 1976 till 2005. It was in St. Bernard Parish. When Hurricane Katrina came we lost everything. The building had 20 feet of water in it for 2 weeks, everything was destroyed. It was very hard on my husband since it was pretty much all he ever did. So after having a thriving business for years, it all came to a halt. We thought we would retire one day and leave it to the children. Who would think after working so hard all of our lives on this business, we would lose it all.

Not only did we have water in the business, we also had 4 feet of water for 2 weeks in our house. We lived in an area that never flooded. We live in Old Metairie. The reason we got water is because the levee broke, and parts of Metairie was flooded. We fixed the house back up, sold it about 3 years ago, and moved into a town house around the corner from it.

After we got back in the house I continued to do catering to support us. I only do a little now and then because the catering business has really slowed up for me. My husband now drives a truck, but hates it, so now he is applying for jobs trying to get back into catering with some of the hotels in New Orleans. He says it is all he really knows how to do.

I have 4 great children, all grown, and 8 wonderful grandchildren. They are the love of my life. I like to baby sit the grandchildren, so almost all the time they are by my house or I am by theirs. My children are all very successful in their jobs, 3 have their own businesses and 1 is in the medical field. They are all wonderful and a pleasure to have, and they love their mother.

Living in New Orleans is so great. The food is wonderful. One of our greatest pleasures is to eat out at good restaurants. Before we lost the business, we ate out every Saturday. We became “foodies”, a person who appreciates good food and eats out a lot. We now still eat out, but not as much.

Cancer story:

On July 31, 2010, I had a stroke. I did not tell my family about the stroke. I guess I was in denial. They knew that something was wrong and brought me to the hospital on Wednesday, August 4.
At the hospital, they confirmed that I did have a stroke; they kept me a few days, gave me medicine, and sent me home. A few days later, I thought I had another stroke and went to the emergency room. While I was there, one of the doctors in the emergency room took an x-ray of my chest and saw a shadow, she thought it was pneumonia and gave me antibiotics to take. When we followed up on the pneumonia, the shadow was still present.
In mid-September, we found out I had lung cancer. We were shocked, particularly because I have never smoked. From the start, my oncologist has been Dr. Brian Boulmay. I feel like the day I met him was one of the best days of my life. Even though I have lung cancer, I have a doctor who I think is the best there is.

My cancer was not operable. Dr. Boulmay immediately put me on a Chemotherapy pill called Tarceva. It was a very hard pill for me to take because it dried out my skin really bad. I started losing my hair — it just got really thin. I lost all of the taste buds in my mouth, so I did not feel like eating anything. I lost about twenty pounds. I had a scan done about every 3 months, and the Tarceva was working. The cancer was not growing, and some of the spots on my lungs actually got smaller. It continued to work for about a year, until a scan showed that the spots were getting larger again.My only option at that point was traditional chemotherapy. Dr. Boulmay used two types of medicine: alimta and carboplatin. I received the chemo drip every three weeks, and had a scan done about every three months. I had really good results. The spots did not grow and sometimes actually shrunk. Eventually, we stopped the carboplatin, and now I am continuing to take the alimta every three weeks. My scans continue to be good. I will continue the alimta for the rest of my life as maintenance chemotherapy.

Incredibly, I have not gotten sick from the traditional chemotherapy. My hair grew back, and I regained some weight. My appetite is back to normal. Whatever Dr. Boulmay is doing for me, it is working.

I just thank God he is my doctor and feel very lucky that he found me.