Lung cancer survivor: Targeted therapy clinical trial halted my stage IV disease

Until November 2018, I’d never been hospitalized before. So, the suddenness of my lung cancer diagnosis at age 65 that year caught me completely off-guard. I’d had a persistent cough for several months. But I felt it was allergy- or acid reflux-related, so I wasn’t overly concerned. Then I started having trouble climbing the stairs in my Dallas home. I didn’t have much energy, and I was losing weight. The rapid decline in my health was unnerving. Finally, I went to a doctor. My physician ordered a chest X-ray, which showed a collapsed left lung and a growth in my chest. I knew it was serious, so I made the decision to get checked out at MD Anderson immediately. My wife, Leslie, had already been in treatment there for pancreatic cancer for about 18 months, so I knew I’d be in the best hands receiving the best possible care. It was only a matter of weeks before Dr. John Heymach gave me a clear diagnosis. It seemed like an eternity at the time. But in hindsight, the right diagnosis was worth the wait. My stage IV, never-smoker lung cancer diagnosis It was a shock to discover I had stage IV adenocarcinoma — a type of lung cancer — because I’d never been a smoker. But it was a relief, too, because at least I finally knew what the problem was. The primary tumor was in my left lung. By the time I was diagnosed, the cancer had already spread to my right lung, as well as my lower spine and five small spots in my brain. My doctors recommended...