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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Stacy Foltz

Lung cancer - Stage IV

This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.

View CTCA treatment results for lung cancer

Overview

My story

In January 2016, I was busy caring for my sick mother-in-law. I was worn out and tired, and then I started coughing heavily. I have had bronchitis before, and the doctor treated me with medicine, assuming that was the issue. But the cough didn’t go away even after taking several different medications over a couple of months. So, in March 2016, I had a chest X-ray, which led to a procedure to drain two liters of fluid in my lungs. About five weeks later, I was scheduled for another procedure because the fluid returned. At this time, the surgeon noticed abnormal cells and sent them for a biopsy. The results determined that I had stage IV non-small cell lung cancer. I was shocked. No one in my biological family had ever had cancer, and I never smoked. Then I was told I had less than a year to live.

I was admitted to the hospital and stayed for almost a month. I had to have oxygen during that time. When I was released, I went home with two chest tubes and I had a home health nurse coming over to take care of me. My oxygen levels dropped one day, and I was re-admitted to the hospital. When I was eventually deemed healthy, I started my first round of chemotherapy. That’s when I really went downhill. My liver and kidneys shut down, and I was very sick.

Family support

I was at a point where I couldn’t make any decisions, and I had to leave my fate to my family. My mom used to be a nurse at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), and my father-in-law worked security there. So my mom and my sister called CTCA® and made all the arrangements for me to go in and have an evaluation. I had seen many of the commercials, and I was very familiar with CTCA, so I was ready to try anything available to me. I also thought that it would be good to be treated somewhere that focused only on cancer.

When I came in May of 2016 for my evaluation, I was immediately admitted to the hospital at CTCA for renal failure, vomiting and fever. While I was an inpatient at CTCA, I was stabilized. Once that happened, I completed my evaluation as an inpatient—my entire care team came to see me in my room. I completed an array of diagnostic tests to determine my cancer type and stage. These test results help formulate my personalized treatment plan. 

After being released from the hospital, my first step as an outpatient was completing chemotherapy. I already had one round at another hospital, and I had four more rounds of chemotherapy at CTCA. Initially, it seemed that I was responding well. I had some side effects, but those were managed by the supportive care therapies offered at CTCA, including naturopathic medicine and nutrition therapy.

Then in July, I met with my medical oncologist. He gave me the news that the chemotherapy was not working.

New options

At CTCA, I feel like I am never out of options. When one door closes, another one opens. My medical oncologist talked to me about immunotherapy. I hadn’t heard of this option before. I soon found out that immunotherapy uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. The immune system doesn’t always recognize cancer cells as harmful. Immunotherapy drugs alert the immune system about the mutated cancer cells so that my own body can locate and destroy them. I knew I wanted to try it.

I did about six weeks of immunotherapy, and I immediately knew it was working. My oxygen levels were up, my coughing was subsiding, and I overall felt better. Then it was discovered that the cancer had metastasized to my brain.

I underwent targeted radiation to the brain tumors in August 2016. Once recovery was complete, I resumed the immunotherapy in October. It’s amazing to me that my own body can be used to identify and fight the bad cells. I am still in active treatment and continuing immunotherapy. Right now, we don’t know if or when that will stop.

Attitude matters

After coming to CTCA, I found hope. I was only 45 years old at the time of my diagnosis, and I just knew that I had so much more to do.  I didn’t want someone giving me a timeframe to live. That’s what I appreciate most about CTCA—I have a multidisciplinary team working with me on the same goal, to fight my cancer.

Throughout my journey with cancer, I have tried to keep a positive attitude. I didn’t want any negativity around me. My support system, including my husband and three children, are so strong. I really believe there is a strong connection between the mind and body. The supportive care therapies offered at CTCA have helped me through cancer treatment.

Today I am happy. I like being outside, hiking and gardening. I enjoy photography and taking the time to capture an image of something that may not have seemed important before, but now I cherish the little things. I cherish the moments. After being diagnosed with cancer, I take the time to stop and look around, and see how amazing life really is.