Lung Cancer Survivor

Specialized Care and a Positive Attitude Inspired by Fellow Lung
Cancer Survivor’s Experience

Name: Sandra Hornung
Age: 64
Hometown: Olathe, Kansas
Type of cancer: Lung Cancer (non-small cell - adenocarcinoma)
Date of diagnosis:1982
Stage at diagnosis: 3a
Current date July 2009
Current status: Cancer Free

1. How was your health when you were diagnosed?
Okay. I was under a lot of stress.

2. Where were you initially diagnosed?
I was going through tests in Kansas City but they were inconclusive.

3. What treatment was initially recommended (include facility name and location, doctor's name, pharmaceuticals, surgeries, etc.)?
My husband and I had read an article by Richard Bloch, so we decided to go to M.D. Anderson where I went through further tests. It was recommended that I have surgery, and then chemo /radiation simultaneously. (Radiation during the week and chemotherapy on the weekend.)

I first had surgery (thoracotomy) to remove the upper tip of my right lung. My surgeon was Dr. William McMurtry. Next, my chemotherapy consisted of cytoxan, cisplatin and adriamycin, and my oncologist was Dr. William (Bill) Murphy. I had five weeks of radiation twice a day. My radiation oncologist was Dr. Arthur D. Hamberger.

4. Did you get a 2nd opinion?

5. Which treatment protocol did you choose and for what reason?
I chose what was recommended by my panel of doctors.

6. Did you participate in a Clinical Trial?
I came up for a clinical trial…radiation to the brain. My oncologist recommended I not participate in the trial because of my age. Plus, they did not know the long-term effects of brain radiation.

7. Are you still in treatment?

8. Did you try any alternative or complementary treatments outside of your traditional doctor's recommendation?
I tried to do some mental imaging. I also tried to remain positive that the treatment was killing the cancer cells.

9. Do you take any nutritional supplements? If so, what do you take?
I drink green tea and take flaxseed oil, multi vitamins, vitamin C, D, and fish oil.

10. Did you change your diet? How is it different from before your diagnosis?
Yes. I eat mostly fish, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. I also eat whole wheat vs. white flour..

11. Did you change your exercise program? How is it different from before your diagnosis?
Yes, I currently exercise one hour daily.

12. Did you change your stress reduction program? How is it different from before your diagnosis?
Yes, I quit teaching. I try not to let things upset me over which I have no control.

13. Are you currently considered to be disease free?

14. How long have you been disease free?
With lung cancer, you are considered disease free after three years. I have been disease free for 24 years.

15. What are you doing to stay disease free?
Eating healthy, working out, drinking green tea, getting plenty of sleep.

16. What do you think is the most important thing you did to combat your cancer?  
I willingly took all the treatments with a positive attitude. I also think exercise is very powerful.

17. Are you willing to have a newly diagnosed patient contact you?

18. Brief Additional Narrative
When I was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in 1982, I was 37 and scared to death. I can remember some dark days. Around that same time, however, someone gave me Richard (Dick) Bloch’s book Cancer… there’s Hope, which is about his experience with lung cancer that was similar to mine. He wrote about how important a positive attitude was for your immune system. I tried not to let myself have negative thoughts because I knew it was not beneficial for me health wise.

I have been cancer-free since my treatment. Having survived this has made me more outgoing, more positive, and more appreciative of relationships. I try to have every day be a good day. I feel very lucky – I know the statistics are not good for lung cancer survivors. I also feel fortunate that I’ve been around to see our grandchildren, watch our sons grow older and to enjoy being with my husband.


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