Julie Desjardins

After having a cough that lasted a few months, which I thought was related to the cold my children caught, I began to have shortness of breath. As more days went by, simple things like climbing stairs became more and more exhausting, and I couldn't catch my breath when I went for a walk. An emergency room stop showed fluid in my lungs. Upon analysis, doctors didn’t find anything in the fluid, which was reassuring, as cancer was ruled out. The respirologist to whom I was referred did a few tests, only to find that the fluid had returned despite the abdominal tap done in emergency. The second fluid analysis revealed traces of cancer, which accelerated the investigation. In the meantime, I did an ultrasound to see if there had been anything wrong with my ovaries, since the liquid could have been linked to ovarian cancer. They found traces of cancer and ultimately, following a lung biopsy, they found that the primary cancer was in the lungs and had metastasized to the ovaries. 
As an almost 39-year-old non-smoker, the thoracic surgeon wanted to check for mutations, since lung cancer in a non-smoker at such a young age with no previous history is often linked to mutations. I was diagnosed with stage 4 ALK+ lung cancer. I was quickly put on targeted therapy (Alectinib), which enabled me to resume my former life. Fluid around my lungs was drained on a daily basis through a pleural drain that I had on for 2 months, and with medication, the fluid never came back. My metastases either disappeared or shrunk, and I was able to resume my activities with only a few side effects.
In June 2022, my world collapsed. As the mother of two boys who were about to turn 7 and 10, and a partner of almost 20 years, our plans had just turned upside down. We had a period of great stress when we heard the word "cancer." It was a bit of a relief to discover the type of mutation and a big relief to learn after 3 months that I was responding well to targeted therapy. Our daily lives have changed, as has our outlook on life. We now hope that this drug will provide us with many years and that research will continue to advance to allow me to live even more years. I'm one of the lucky ones who can carry on with my activities just as before, with just a few adjustments for side effects. Being able to resume daily activities, travel and physical activity helps improve my psyche and that of the whole family.
The support groups, the sharing of new research and access to information keep me motivated and confident in the future.