Lung Cancer Survivor
There is one thing Gail likes to make clear: She is not a cancer patient.
“I happen to be a person who has cancer,” says Gail. “I have a great life and I love the fact that the focus has never been on cancer.”
Gail had just turned 60 years old when a CT scan revealed a large mass in her lungs. She was diagnosed with stage 4 inoperable lung cancer. Without treatment, she was told she had six months to live.
Her first thought was about her family. “I can’t leave,” thought Gail. “ I don’t have any grandbabies.”
A self-proclaimed “science and math nerd,” Gail says she chose Moffitt for treatment because she knew about the stellar reputation of its research center.
About a year and a half into chemotherapy treatment, her cancer cells were sent off for genomic testing, which Gail says, “was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
The test showed she had a rare mutation called ALK5 and with that discovery she received good news: there was an immunotherapy that worked specifically on that mutation.
The therapy kept her cancer controlled for about a year and a half until it stopped working. Gail was lucky though, she qualified for a new clinical trial.
Six weeks into the trial, her tumor was gone. In the past two years, she’s had no signs of recurrence.
Gail credits her treatment team including Dr. Eric Haura and numerous nurses for helping her stay positive and focused.
“[Dr. Haura] has been awesome in empowering me to have a life beyond cancer,” says Gail.
Gail’s newfound life now includes chasing her 3-year-old granddaughter around the house, planting flowers in the garden and painting, a hobby she cultivated in Moffitt’s Arts In Medicine Program.
“Moffitt always talks about quality of life,” says Gail. “They don’t want you to just survive. They want you to have a great, happy life.”