Posted by: Teri Simon | 2012/11/11

They’re Gonna Cure Cancer ‘Cause of Me (I Hope)!

cancer researchGood title for a blog, huh!  I hope you’re intrigued because there’s a story here.

Last Tuesday, in the company of my wonderful brother, I spent the bulk of the day at Vanderbilt.  I had my scans, had my labs drawn, met with my substitute doctor (Leora is on maternity leave, having given birth last Wednesday to a baby boy), had my infusion, and then made yet another contribution to medical science which I hope will be the definitive contribution that will cure cancer.  Well, the kind of cancer I have, anyway.  Not my cancer, personally; that’s not the way it works.  But someday, hopefully not too far away, people diagnosed with EGFR positive adenocarcinoma of the lung will be able to be cured of it.  Because of me.

But let’s start at the beginning.  So I had my scans.  I was hopeful that they would have shown continued tumor shrinkage, since I was (finally) lucky enough to be in the small percentage group (10%) who experience tumor reduction on Navelbine. My brother and I met with the “new” doctor (whom I just saw on a TV commercial for Vanderbilt!), Dr. William Pao.  He’s Leora’s boss.  No slouches here.  Dr. Pao told my brother and me that my scan results were “mixed,” meaning some tumors appeared a bit smaller, and others looked a bit bigger.  The fact that my catheter had not been drained yet made it even more challenging to read the scan; one tumor may have grown, or just may have been squished by the fluid to appear bigger.  So Dr. Pao called the scan “stable.”  I’ll take it.  Stable is OK.  Not awesome, but OK.  He also agreed that switching to chemo every other week would be a good idea, and I’m really glad he was on board with that, because this chemo stuff is REALLY HARD!

Then Dr. Pao asked me if I knew what the fluid in my lung was.  Cytology was the word he used.  I told him it was all malignant fluid, meaning that each week, 1000 ml of cancer gets drawn out of my body and thrown away.  Yuck, but better out than in.  Dr. Pao asked if I would consider donating the fluid for research.  He explained that from my malignant fluid, the research team would be able to create something called a “cell line.”  “What’s that?” you ask?  Yeah, I asked, too.  A cell line is cells grown in tissue culture, representing generations of a primary culture.  Meaning, from my malignant fluid, they can grow a bunch of junk and then throw a whole bunch of possible treatments on them until they find the one that will work at killing the mess.  Basically, through these cell lines, they can cure cancer.  No lie.  No, it won’t be in time for me, but someday, somebody is going to be OK because I donated malignant fluid to medical research, via Dr. Pao.

Now, I’ve certainly given at the office before:  I’ve participated in 3 clinical drug trials.  One of them almost killed me.  And it sucks that this giving isn’t going to save me.  But there’s something pretty cool about this cell line stuff.  It’s a type of immortality.  It’s a means for someone to find a cure for this horrible, horrible disease.  It’s kinda cool.

It’s made the week a little easier to bear, as exhausted as I’ve been, with dry eyes and nausea and all, to think that I may have made a contribution that will change the face of this lung junk nightmare.  And this week has been really hard, my friends.  I’ve continued to feel like total crap, very grateful that this Tuesday will just be fluids, and grateful that between my brother (who went back home on Friday) and my kids I am well taken care of, but still tired of being tired and sick of feeling sick.  Cancer sucks, no matter how you look at it, unless you’re fortunate to be looking at it from a rear view mirror, finished with treatment and healthy and all.  And then, it probably still sucks, because you wonder if it’s ever going to knock on your door again.

So in this National Lung Cancer Awareness Month, I have been trying to raise awareness, end the stigma of the lung cancer patient, and encourage more research funding.  How amazing that in this same month, I may have given a contribution that may make the awareness part unnecessary in the future.  Pretty cool indeed!

I wish you a week of ease and reasons to be thankful.

Teri, the Flying Elephant, hoping to cure cancer




  1. As always thank you for making the time to share, I know it is not easy but believe me it is appreciated along my own lung cancer odyssey. … Patrick

  2. That’s really incredible stuff, Teri. You are a part of curing cancer – kinda amazing. ~Catherine

  3. Dear Teri,

    You continue to amaze me–not only will cancer possibly be cured because of you and your fluids (that doesn’t sound so grand) but you’ve also educated a generation of folks. You’re in my daily thoughts and prayers. I’d love to see you and your kids sometime over the holidays. Amy will be home for Thanksgiving but we’ll be in Oneida with my folks. Maybe over the winter break when her semester is over? I’m not sure when she will be home but will let you know.

    Hope to see you soon,

    Love, Gina

  4. IT was a good thing you did. Let’s hope that it makes a difference.

  5. Thank YOU, Marci.

  6. Even without donating the fluid, you have made a difference in so many lives young and old.  Just reading your words each week helps to ground me and so many others like me.  It reminds me what is important and makes me more grateful and less stressed over stupid stuff.  Your words are memorable, like glue sometimes, they stick with you in the back of my mind.  I think of you every time, “both little heads are on pillows in their own rooms” and I take one more chance to kiss them goodnight and appreciate having them both under one roof.  Then I remember you and your words that made me stop and feel blessed.  Thank you.  Marci


  7. Also, I hope you have a better week this week.

  8. Teri my friend, you have given more than fluid. You have given all of us a story, a story of an amazing woman that not only is fighting this horrible disease, you take the focus off of yourself and help others that are here or gone shine. You are truly a wonderful lady. I hate this disease, but I appreciate your fight for the future cancer patients. I love you bunches and am always here for you.XOXO

  9. Teri, you are our very own Henrietta Lacks! I have no doubt folks will benefit from yet another example of your love and caring for others. We love you!

    All the Rosenbergs/Schulzes

  10. Thank you!

  11. Other than the dudes who twirl test tubes in sterile rooms, I can’t think of anyone who is doing more for lung cancer cure than you do. Including, now, donating your “junk.” Bless your heart (in the good way)!

    I surely hope this week is a feel-better one! I’m glad Dr. TV agreed for the alternate week reprieve.

    Love and hugs,

  12. Great way of thinking about things. I hope your week this week is better.

  13. Very cool ~ and not surprising ~ that you’re doing something to benefit humanity.


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