What would you do, if you were told you only had months to live? It’s not something any of us would want to hear, but for one local woman, that’s the terrible reality she faced. However, through incredible advances in medicine, she is now not only beating the odds, but giving others hope.
Last February, Jodi Parker celebrated what she calls her Cancerversary, diagnosed five years ago with stage 4 lung cancer and given less than a year to live, this lifelong non-smoker and former cancer nurse couldn’t believe the news.
“Initially I was in shock,” explains Parker, “because I was never even thinking that. I thought maybe I had pneumonia or something like that. So, I was like in total shock.”
Her oncologist recommended chemotherapy, but initially Jodi rejected treatment.
Jodi says, “I’ve been around cancer patients with lung cancer and I know it’s not a good outcome and I don’t, at the time I didn’t want to put myself through that.”
But her doctor, her husband, Dennis and others convinced her to give treatment a try and she eventually did. And then something amazing happened.
Dr. Nathan Adams, Jodi’s Oncologist says, “Jodi was initially treated with a year of chemotherapy and then an ALK mutation ALK mutation was identified and we have a drug that specifically targets that mutation and were seeing some remarkable responses with it. And what’s changed over the last five years is we have new ALC inhibitors that have come out and Jodi and the tumor has responded very well to those ALC inhibitors.”
But just when she seemed to be beating cancer, another tragedy struck, an MRI showed not one but two tumors in Jodi’s brain.
“Another bump in the road,” says Jodi, “it was another hurdle to get over, and I felt like, I can do it. I’m strong. I wasn’t real scared.”
She had surgery to remove the tumors and things seemed to go well.
“And I ended up coming home from the hospital on Thanksgiving day of 2015,” explains Jodi, “the surgery was a success. I feel like I’m still in fight mode. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about me having cancer, but I don’t let it define who I am.”
And now, after living years past what she was originally told she would have, she is now celebrating life, including some events she never expected to see.
“I was blessed with our first grandson. Leon,” says Jodi, “I get kind of teary. I didn’t know if I would see this, if I would see him born. But he came in October of 2015 right before I had my surgery and it felt so good to see him and have him in my arms.”
Jodi’s goal now is to raise awareness about lung cancer and the need for research to develop more medications and therapies like the ones that have kept her alive.
Jodi says, “I feel like I’m an advocate to other people that are going through this. That I give them hope. That I’ve lived five years. You get that horrible diagnosis and you’re told you have 6 months or less than a year to live. I’m living proof that that’s not necessarily so.”
Jodi now has another grandchild and just had another round of scans that have come back looking good. For information on lung cancer, the signs and symptoms, click here.