Michelle started feeling dizzy in the spring of 2012. She was living a busy life with an active 5-year-old son and a husband who was away abroad half of the time, so she put it down to just simply being tired and getting old. Being Japanese, she sought solutions in oriental medicine, such as acupuncture and moxa, but her dizziness continued to get worse and eventually turned into vertigo.
Michelle was diagnosed in May 2012 with Non-Small Cell Adenocarcinoma. When an elderly female doctor told her that the cancer was very advanced with an MRI of her brain with so many white spots, it felt like a death sentence. The first thing Michelle thought about was her son, who had just turned 5 at the time. “What did he do to deserve to lose his mother? He is still so young. I imagined my son’s sad face and felt as if my heart stopped. Then everyone’s sad faces appeared in my thoughts and all I felt was a despair.”
At the time, ROS1 was not widely known in the UK. Until Michelle was finally diagnosed as ROS1+ in October 2013, she went through many cycles of chemo and also had whole-brain radiotherapy. She became so weak that she had a social care worker coming every day to look after her. Michelle’s father came from Japan and stayed with her family to help her and look after her son so that her husband could go back to work. Michelle says “Cancer brought my father, my husband, son and me very close. Every cloud has a silver lining.”
After she was identified as ROS1+, Michelle started crizotinib. Crizotinib’s side effects were so much more manageable for her than chemotherapy. She was able to regain her physical and mental strength, and, for the first time since diagnosis, started to feel hope.
Michelle switched TKIs to lorlatinib in January of 2017 and has been stable. She feels blessed to have family and friends who support her. She is also very grateful to the ROS1+ Cancer Facebook group for being a place where she could go when she felt nervous or worried. We all share worries and concerns and offer each other support.