November is Lung Cancer awareness month. During this period, Nasim and Dipti want to share their personal stories with other women to make sure they get the medical advice they need, as early as possible.
As Nasim started to notice changes to her body and her energy levels, she knew she needed to find out what was going on. After diagnosis and treatment for lung cancer, Nasim is now on the road to recovery.
Nasim is 65 years old. When she initially started losing weight she thought it was just due to stress because she had recently moved, but as time went on she had a feeling something could be wrong.
‘I lost weight gradually over a period of two years so it wasn’t always noticeable to me. However, when I would meet with friends and family who might not have seen me all the time, they all pointed out that I was looking thin and asked me if I was OK.’
Nasim started to feel much more tired than usual, and her clothes were getting looser. She’d had breast cancer over twenty years ago and thought it might be coming back, but never considered it could be lung cancer. Nasim had a healthy lifestyle, didn’t smoke, and didn’t have any ‘classic’ lung cancer symptoms, like an ongoing cough. But her body was telling her that she should get checked out. Nasim is aware that women often don’t put their own health first, which can be a problem in making sure cancer is detected early.
‘As women, we are always busy, worrying about other people before ourselves. It’s very important to go to the GP if you think something is different or not quite right.You know your body best, and if something feels unusual I urge you to get medical advice just for peace of mind. Your GP will never think you’re wasting their time, and getting a diagnosis as early as possible will give you the best chance of treatment and survival.’
A scan found a shadow on Nasim’s lung and she was diagnosed with lung cancer, leading to a lobectomy to remove part of her left lung. She hasn’t needed any ongoing treatment but does take medication. Nasim knows that there is still a way to go on her road to recovery, but she is grateful for how far she’s been able to come.
‘I feel so lucky that I don’t have to undergo any chemo or radiotherapy as I went through it the first time when I had breast cancer. It’s been a slow recovery but I am getting there with God’s help and the support of family and friends. I’ve made lots of adjustments to my life – I plan and take things slowly, prioritising what’s important to me and my family.’
Nasim is also clear that she wants to share her story with other women.
‘The best thing that could come from my diagnosis and treatment would be that other women read my story and go and see their GP as a result. Life can become fragile in an instant and so it is imperative to look after yourself and cherish your blessings.’
Dipti’s father passed away four years ago, having been diagnosed with lung cancer aged 53. Like Nasim, he had also been losing weight, but the family thought little of it as he was often careful with what he ate.
Like most people, Dipti had certain assumptions about lung cancer, its symptoms and who it affects, but following her father’s death she is determined that her family’s experience helps others in the future.
‘Lung cancer has affected me and my family immensely, and we’ve learned that it can affect anyone of any age. If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer.’
Dipti is keen to point out the importance of family and friends in getting an early diagnosis and in supporting mental health after a diagnosis.
‘Support that person by helping them book a GP appointment, go with them to support them.Help them to take each day as it comes and keep positive for them. Retaining a sense of normality in life can really help in getting through it all.’
Having a young family, Dipti also knows how vital it is for women to look after themselves too, and not take their health for granted.
‘You need to take care of yourself to take care of others, so if anything seems amiss, go and get it looked at. The earlier that cancer is detected and treated, the more positive the outcome. Most of the time it’s not serious – wouldn’t you rather know?’
Lung Cancer Symptoms
- Coughing for 3 weeks or more
- Chest infection that keeps coming back
- Aches or pains when breathing and coughing
- Unexpected weight loss or tiredness
If something in your body doesn’t feel right, you should make an appointment to see your GP’
For more info visit www.nhs.uk/cancersymptoms