Jane Elterman was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008. After struggling with a sore neck, she went to her doctor during her lunch hour. Within a few hours, her life changed forever. She was diagnosed with end Stage IV Adenocarcinoma.
The diagnosis was sudden and shocking. Jane hadn’t smoked in over 20 years. Like a lot of people diagnosed with lung cancer, Jane struggled with the stigma associated with it.
“The first question is ALWAYS, “did you smoke?” I hadn’t smoked in over 20 years, but it still doesn’t mean I deserve to die. My first 18 years of life, I lived with a heavy smoker. I didn’t have a choice then, he was my father.”
At LUNGevity’s HOPE Summit, Jane learned about the statistics and ways to educate people about the misconceptions about lung cancer.
“It’s not just a preventable disease or a smoker’s disease. Over 60% of people who get lung cancer are never smokers or long time ex-smokers. Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer. It claims the lives of more women under forty than breast cancer does.
I am so happy to have statistics to inform people of the misconceptions about lung cancer. It’s such a great way to communicate a very effective message!”
We asked Jane, “What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed with lung cancer”?
“Always get a second opinion! (I did a segment on Good Morning Texas about this early this year!) It is your life and you must participate in your care. I lost my beloved first husband, Blaine, to cancer, when he was 36. My biggest regret is that we just did everything his doctors recommended, but we NEVER got a second opinion. Of course, I didn’t know that lesson would serve me well later.
Besides getting a second opinion every time your treatment changes…I would say try to keep some “normalcy” in your life, even if you have to create that normal; and you most certainly don’t feel normal while you undergoing the fight of your life. Fake it until you make it has been a credo for me! “
Jane wishes she had thought of herself as a ‘survivor’ back when she was first diagnosed. LUNGevity supports the NCI definition of a survivor- anyone who’s ever been diagnosed with cancer from the moment of diagnosis, and for the rest of their lives. Jane learned that at LUNGevity’s HOPE Summit.
“It hadn’t crossed my mind before becoming a member of this great group. I feel so much stronger with that label.”
When asked what support resources have helped to aid in her survivorship, Jane says:
“CTCA is where I’ve been receiving treatment since April 2010 and they have been phenomenal in their support. I see a naturopath and acupuncturist at every visit; they are a great part of my team. However, Lungevity has become invaluable as a resource! Wish I’d know about the organization sooner.
I prefer monitoring my nutrition and taking natural supplements, versus prescriptions. When the “authorities” put an expiration date on your life, you don’t want to miss a minute being sleepy and numb! CTCA excels at providing alternative treatments and supplements for relief from side effects, nutritional and exercise information for the prevention of new disease.”
Today Jane is living well with lung cancer. She talks to patients, doctors and caregivers all over the country sharing with them information about lung cancer and the statistics. She talks about the need for more research, more funding and how patients need much more information than they are receiving.
“I know I’m a miracle and thank God diligently for this! Now, I have my heart set on doing something that makes a difference!”
Jane has also participated in LUNGevity HOPE Summit Dallas and DC and offers to connect with others who may need support or inspiration.
Jane speaks regularly on behalf of Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), where she is treated. She’s also in the background of one of their commercials that is currently airing. She has given radio and television interviews and did a segment on GMT with her oncologist Dr. Simeon Jaggernauth.