Diane Colton

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My story gets to continue!
 
How do you start to tell the story of your journey with lung cancer? It definitely starts before you know you have it; our staging tells us that at least. The how not so much and the ever-nagging question we all seem to cycle back to even when we are living our life to the fullest possible.
 
My name is Diane Colton and I turned 65 in August 2020. It has definitely been a milestone and unforgettable year in so many ways.
 
2011 is when I with full knowledge started my journey with lung cancer. I started waking up to coughing with blood filled mucus. Actually, I did not think I was ill, just burst some blood vessels and would be out in no time; so wrong. I was in the hospital for about a week and a half to control the bleeding and to get a biopsy, though without full knowledge the emergency doctor rather unceremoniously stated I had lung cancer. That in itself is a full chapter for a book!
 
I was fortunate in my diagnosis compared to most others and I live in gratitude daily! Stage 1B adenocarcinoma, and surgery was the chosen treatment! For my handling of it (the cancer), I decided that the tumor needed a name to keep it as a separate entity from me. Wally Walnut was an uninvited squatter and was going to be expelled. From diagnosis to surgery was 6 weeks! It was successful.
 
There was no other treatment required. I was fully recovered from my surgery by mid-January and then broke a rib, which set me back. I wish I could say I sat back and allowed myself to heal! I was back at work by mid-February. I had responsibilities to my clients, besides sitting at home was not an option I wanted to take…. having a purpose and moving forward are important to me.
 
Time kept it’s ever moving forward, there is no stopping, rolling back, rewriting. Once gone it will not come back. I chose to choose how my life looks and is. For a reward I went with a friend on a short 3-day cruise. I was complaining for several weeks about pain in my groin, but it was determined that I had just pulled muscles exercising. The groin is not a place where lung cancer would be looked for. It kept persisting so I had my GP book scans for me, then biopsy. I had two more squatters…Lizzy and Liza lymph nodes. I was given a choice of the type of treatment: I could have surgery to remove them but there was a strong chance that I would lose the use of my leg and it would grow in size, like going from size 4 to 44. A little bit of vanity came in to play with this choice, the other being radiation. I chose radiation. 10 treatments in all. I would just like to say at this time I have not had to go through what most lung cancer patients go through. I am in a one percentile, so again, fortunate. I spent 2012 -2015 doing the regular three month then six month follow-ups. In year 4 I went annually.
 
After walking into a table filled with numerous glasses of wine and sending it flying (waste of good wine) I went to a walk in clinic in Banff; this was August 2019. By the next day I had an MRI, back to the local doctor for my diagnosis and referral. I was presented with a brain tumor, who became Marshmallow Morgan, there is a story to that but for another time! In less than a week I had an appointment with a radiation oncologist.  Treatment was mapped out and again it has stayed simple for me, radiation treatments. As of my last visit on June 2020, the tumor has continued to shrink. So I am now back to the offensive, every three months for my brain and the rest of me.
 
What I Do and What I Know:
 
I learned to treat myself with the same respect I treat everyone else and it is now an expectation and a minimum I want to have. It is ok to let people leave and change their life path.  People come into our lives for a reason but not necessarily forever! We cannot force people to change to who we want them to be…who knows maybe they think we are off. It is always about perspective.
 
I took any anger I had and channeled it into positive action. Educating and helping people learn will go farther for lung cancer and understanding what we face. Each of us knows what we know. Everyone reacts to hearing about lung cancer differently. Most would not do any reading or research on lung cancer unless it had a direct impact on our/their life. I certainly did not. So, I do not expect them to be well versed on lung cancer. Fear can be a major driver in how we see and react to things. I cannot fault people for any of it.
 
Be around positive supportive people; keep everyone else at a distance. This does not mean totally dismissing, but minimize interactions with them. You are loved!
 
I have the opportunity to design my life every morning when I wake up. I live in sync with my cancer. It is part of my life and I have to live to the fullest I can. I do not ask why me; that will never be answered, and I am using up my precious life energy and wasting it. There are so many wonderful people, things, places, events surrounding each of us. I may get another 30 years but then again, I may get 3 days. I have no control over that and want each moment to count.
 
I work with all my doctors, discuss everything with them and take on the tasks for myself that do not belong to them. We are all a team! Anything that is out of my realm of understanding, I find someone who does understand. I do not know everything nor do I have time to!
 
I share my story with those who want to know but I also advocate to bring lung cancer out from behind the mask of stigma, misinformation, and myth. I am there to support patients, caregivers, advocates, researchers, and doctors. We forget about the doctors. I have been advocating, fundraising, and bringing lung cancer to the forefront for several years now. I founded Unmasking the Reality of Lung Cancer which is now officially a not for profit.
 
Around the world there are many thousands of people whose life mission is to combat lung cancer and make our life journey easier and longer. If you want to know a blessing, that is one. There are organizations like Lung Cancer Canada who work tirelessly to support patients’ caregivers and families. Many doctors and researchers are spending quite a bit of their precious time in finding funds in order to keep their research going, be able to hire the best and brightest all for us. I support the teams and my helping with fundraising and bringing the reality of lung cancer out to the public forum at the end of the day is going to give me a better quality of life if I need it.
 
I never asked for lung cancer and yes would love it to just go away and never come back again, but it is a strange bedfellow and thank God not a bedbug! How I live each day and what I leave behind will always be my driver. I want to change the landscape of lung cancer in as much as my capacity will allow.  I am grateful for each breath I get. I am grateful to be asked to share. I am grateful for those who read this and those who do not.
 
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