- Lives in Greenwood Village, Colorado with her husband and high school sweetheart, Pierre
- Heidi and Pierre have 3 adult children
- Heidi holds a master's degree in Health Education and has been a fitness trainer for 16 years
Heidi’s Journey With Cancer
- Diagnosed with stage 3A lung cancer
- Received biomarker testing that indicated there was no mutation
- Treatment plan was chemoradiation followed by immunotherapy infusions
From Heidi’s Perspective
My life changed forever at the age of 55. The day I was diagnosed with stage 3A lung cancer, I felt a familiar twinge on my lower left side and thought, given my age and my history of ovarian cysts, I should get this checked by my gynecologist. After an examination and ultrasound, my doctor told me I had a 6-centimeter cyst on my left ovary. My gynecologist then ordered a CT scan of my chest, abdomen and pelvis to rule out anything troublesome and the results were shocking.
The result of my CT scan was shocking.
My thoughts raced. How could I have advanced stage lung cancer? Working out 7 days a week—cardio, strength, core training, and clean eating—has been a huge part of my life and who I am. I am a health educator and fitness trainer. I teach fitness classes to healthcare professionals, live a life of prevention, and I have never smoked.
The Importance of Lung Cancer Screening
I have learned a lot since my diagnosis. Lung cancer is the most lethal cancer in our country and the rest of the world, and it is the least funded of all the cancers. There are no early assessments/detection programs for people who are not smokers. Would I have been better off if I smoked?
Getting a Second Opinion
I was told to get my affairs in order by my pulmonologist. After meeting with my oncologist and having a second opinion, the treatment plan and potential outcome offered much more hope.
After I was diagnosed, I received basic biomarker testing, which did not demonstrate any driver mutations. Because I had multi-station disease, I was considered inoperable and was offered one treatment option: chemoradiation followed by a year of every other week of immunotherapy infusions if I could tolerate them.
The unexpected change in my life after diagnosis is that I am able to stay independent.
The Emotional Toll
Emotionally, however, this diagnosis has taken a toll on me and my family. I did not expect to be put on the defensive as soon as someone found out about my diagnosis. I was never greeted with “I'm so sorry;” the first comment to me is always “I didn't know you are/were a smoker." This stigma hurts me deeply and has caused me more emotional damage than anything.
I live each day in the moment as best I can, but when scan day nears, my anxiety peaks. I get a good scan result, I plan lots of fun things and trips—primarily visits to see my children, and exploring places on my bucket list, and it helps me live my best life. Learning to live to the fullest in 3-month intervals has become our routine and has actually brought us a lot of joyful experiences.
Hope for the Future
The fact that I am doing well gives me hope. I am determined to show my face, tell my story, and spread awareness that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer.