“I had a chronic cough that wouldn’t go away,” recalls Joanne Kiers of Dunnville. “I thought it might be a case of bronchitis or acid reflux, but I went to my family physician just to be safe.”
Joanne was shocked when she was diagnosed with lung cancer in November 2013 – despite never smoking a day in her life.
“A lot of people assume that people with lung cancer brought it upon themselves by smoking,” she says. “The truth is that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer.”
The cancer spreads
Treatment began shortly after the diagnosis with surgery to remove a portion of her lung. Unfortunately the procedure was unsuccessful in stemming the cancer, which began to spread throughout her lymphatic system.
Joanne began a regimen of chemotherapy at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre in early 2014, which was successful in slowing the cancer’s progression.
Never losing hope
“Then a follow-up CT scan a year later showed that the cancer had become active again,” says Joanne. “Over the next two years, I underwent extensive radiation treatment and various types of chemotherapy.”
“I strongly believe in the power of staying positive.”
Even after she lost her hair twice, Joanne always looked on the bright side of things.
“I strongly believe in the power of staying positive and keeping a sense of humour in the face of adversity. What’s important is finding the silver lining in every situation.”
The cancer began to progress once again in 2019, so she required a new program of targeted therapy. Testing revealed that her cancer had a specific genetic mutation that could be targeted with oral medication.
Joanne’s cancer journey continues and her therapy is ongoing. She looks to the past with gratitude and toward the future with hope.
“Thanks to the incredible doctors and staff, I’m able to enjoy my time with loved ones and I can continue my charitable work with animals in need, which is a passion of mine,” says Joanne. “This is all possible because of the care I received at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre. The time I’ve been given is a gift and I make the most of every day.”