Diagnosis is terminal, but brave Arlene feels positive
Arlene Anderson (57) is living with a terminal diagnosis after she waited to see her GP when she started to feel unwell in 2009.
The mum-of-two from Moneymore, Co Londonderry, was experiencing extreme fatigue, but put it down to her age and busy lifestyle. She then developed a tightness in her chest, but only went to the doctor after she coughed up a small blood clot.
Her GP sent her straight to hospital, where a chest X-ray revealed a mass in her lung.
Arlene, a science teacher at the time, had more tests and was diagnosed with lung cancer shortly after her 50th birthday.
"By this stage I had started to suspect that is what it may have been, so there was no real moment of realisation - I had actually had some time to come to terms with it," she said.
Surgeons removed a lobe of her lung, but they also discovered the cancer in a number of lymph nodes, meaning it could have spread, so the operation was followed by chemotherapy.
"The five-year survival rate was under 5% in fact, but when I got to the four-and-a-half year mark I was starting to feel more positive," Arlene said.
"But then I developed a cough and went back to my doctor and I was sent for tests and it turned out it was back.
"I was in a very dark place for about four weeks afterwards, but then I decided that I was going to enjoy whatever time I have left."
Arlene underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and two-and-a-half years later she remains positive. "I feel very good and very happy," she said.