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Joanne Kiers: She's a 1der

Updated: Feb 15, 2022

My story starts out the same as many others, I had a chronic cough that wouldn’t go away. I thought it might just be a case of ongoing bronchitis. Being a teacher in an elementary school there were always plenty of germs going around and, like clockwork, I caught something every fall. I finally went to my family physician just to check it out. After several visits to ENTs and allergy specialists I was surprised when I was finally diagnosed with lung cancer in November 2013. That’s when the juggernaut of testing and staging began. I was scheduled within weeks for a lower right lobectomy. The VATS surgery went well but several lymph nodes came back positive. What followed was 4 years of various chemo treatments, trials and radiation. Unfortunately nothing seemed to prove successful at stemming the progression for long. Finally in July of 2018 it was discovered that I was ROS1+. What a blessing that was. Crizotinib was the plan, but I wouldn’t start it for almost 8 months as I needed to give my body a chance to rest and recuperate from the effects of the previous treatments. Since being on Crizotinib I have had a couple recent scans that have been NED!

I strongly believe in the power of staying positive and more importantly keeping a sense of humour in the face of adversity.

I remain ever thankful to the incredible medical team I have, and the never ending support of family and friends. Thanks to this dreaded diagnosis, I will forever know the profound impact that love and kindness have on a person’s spirit. Finding my fellow ROS1ders has helped feed my insatiable thirst for information. I find comfort in researching the science and statistics of this disease - as odd as that may sound. The knowledge I’ve found in this group has been great. I believe if the research can stay just one (or two) steps ahead of me I’ll be able to enjoy more time with loved ones and I can continue my work with animals in need, which is a passion of mine. I have come to appreciate that the time I’ve been given is a blessing and I try make it count.

My motto: Live your hopes and not your fears!

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