Stefanie O’Polka – Lung Cancer Overcomer!
Lung Cancer Overcomer!
As a lifelong non-smoker with no family history of cancer, I was shocked and horrified to receive a lung cancer diagnosis in April of 2015. I had a serious case of pneumonia that thankfully hadn’t responded to oral antibiotics. My general practitioner sent me to the emergency room to be admitted, get IV antibiotics, and rest. I began to suspect something was wrong when an unusually large number of doctors and specialists traveled in and out of my ER room, all of them saying they were trying to “rule things out.” After several days in the hospital and many tests and procedures, I awoke from anesthesia with an oncologist by my bedside. It was confirmed: I had lung cancer.
I didn’t know specifics, but somewhere in my mind I remembered reading that lung cancer was one of the worst types of cancer. The actual lung cancer facts are staggering. It is the deadliest of all cancers, killing more people each year than breast, colon and prostate cancers COMBINED. The five-year survival rate for those diagnosed with lung cancer is just 18%. Not great odds, but I am a fighter, and I was going to do whatever I could for me and my three amazing children.
I underwent conventional treatment including surgery removing the majority of my right lung and four months of weekly chemotherapy. I also began researching complementary therapies that could help boost me into that small number of lung cancer survivors. I found an acupuncturist, started taking supplements and juicing, opened myself up with spiritual practices like meditation and gratitude, and I was introduced to Believe Big. Believe Big’s beautiful stories of survival gave me hope that I, too, could overcome cancer, and their nutrition and mistletoe therapy services gave me practical ways to fight this disease.
As I write this, I can gratefully say that I have been cancer free for 3 ½ years! I continue my mistletoe injections and I strive to live a balanced lifestyle. Giving back has always been a part of my life, and I’m proud to say that this year I raised over $30,000 for the Lung Cancer Research Foundation. I am a monthly donor to Believe Big, I’ve enjoyed attending the last three inspirational fundraising dinners, I’ve hosted a fun Believe Mug painting in my home, and my niece now works for this incredible organization that helped me so much on my cancer journey.
Stefanie is pictured above with her niece and 3 children, Believing Big!