Adrienne Peralta


This story is dedicated in memory of Shannon Gall, who encouraged me and inspired me to write and share mine.

Life is never easy. I have always been taught that. I learned that at 19 years old as I tackled life, putting myself through school, juggling night classes between three jobs. I gave my very best to be successful in every role I was hired to do. That's how I always viewed learning, until I reached 40 and realized how difficult it could become.

At that time, I thought I finally had all my ducks in a row. I was full of pride because I finally got a promotion, and that working 3 jobs in between night classes and growing up too fast during my teen years finally paid off. I got married, travelled, and enjoyed small successes. My husband and I finally decided we are ready for the next phase of our lives...we were ready for a family, together with our fur boy, Schatz, in our cozy 3-bedroom house that we owned.

That was the plan until I was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in 2019.

I realized that what I’ve learned for almost half of my life, is based on my decisions, good and bad and how I face the consequences of my choices. I saw these mishaps and mistakes, as source of strength as I challenged each one as they come. I remained resilient and proud to say I was able to bounce back every time.

Then, Cancer happened. That one word sent my best laid plans for the future careening right off the tracks. It once again reminded me that life is not easy. All my resiliency was thrown out the window as my thoughts were clouded with fear, anger, sadness, and sheer disappointment. I found it challenging to bounce back. Having lung cancer is not a choice I made for myself.

This is not part of the well thought out decisions I made in my life. Why would a nonsmoker, with a balanced healthy lifestyle of exercise and diet have Lung Cancer? That was the nagging question that came to mind.

Diagnosed at stage 4 with no symptoms doubled the surprise. Anger and depression chipped away all the resilience I thought I had. Those emotions depleted all the positivity I had. They blinded me from seeing the silver lining. I asked myself what positivity there could be aside from having a positive cancer diagnosis.

I struggled to find clarity while these questions and thoughts filled my mind. I turned to the internet to find people like me, people who are facing the same challenges and experiences that I am going through. I found support groups and organizations that helped me function again because I slowly learned more about lung cancer and heard other people's experiences. I was able to relate with some of them. The ones whose experiences differ from mine, I keep in my back pocket for later so that I may draw wisdom from their experiences.

This year marks my 5th year as a cancer patient. I can honestly say that I have come a long way from the mindset I had back then. I discovered that listening to people with the same lived experiences, as well as sharing my own, while educating myself about the disease guided me as I live every day.

I have always focused on my goals, and I achieved them knowing that each decision I make will affect the outcome.

However, this time I can't just simply bounce back and return to how things were before my diagnosis. Knowing that this has completely altered the course I had planned for my life, I just focus on what matters most to me.

I learned that making the most of what I have is the best way to deal with circumstances that happen that aren't the results of my choices or decisions.

I’ve noticed a lot of younger and asymptomatic people get diagnosed with this disease, some like me was diagnosed at an uncurable stage. A stage where I must change the way of thinking and shift my mindset. This encouraged me to share my story to create awareness and inspire.

Instead of thinking about the negative impact cancer has given me, I chose to do something, to be part of the change. So here I am sharing my story on getting my life back in addition to my fundraising efforts, to raise awareness, fast-track clinical trials and research, to improved screening guidelines and change the conversation that this can happen to anyone.

I hope that others can relate and feel empowered to share theirs as well. I hope that telling our stories will further push early screening with no age limitations, regardless of lifestyle and life choices, raise awareness, because in the end though cancer isn't something we chose, we can make the choice to help eliminate cancer, so that no one will never have to take this path and have a better outcome in the future.

Side note: Cancer did not numb me from all these pains, when my dear fur boy Schatz passed away, it taught me that life as tough as it might be, still goes on, pain and challenges will and can always happen, but so will learning and coping. There are educational materials and support programs provided and offered by foundations such as Lung Cancer Canada and Other wonderful organizations out there. I did not bounce back on my own, I coped from stories like this from patients and advocates I met along the way, some turned from acquaintances into friends I now call my Lung Cancer Family.