Just three months after getting a clean bill of health, Lorrie’s cough returned. A CAT scan showed the cancer was back in her lungs.
When Lorrie first developed a cough in the Fall of 2020 – she ignored it because she didn’t feel sick. She assumed it must be allergies. But when the cough didn’t go away, she went to a doctor who did an x-ray and told her she had pneumonia. Then one day while working with her husband at his automotive repair shop, Lorrie struggled to breathe. She went back to the doctor and was referred to a lung specialist. The diagnosis that came next was shocking…..Stage 4 small cell lung cancer.
“I don’t smoke. Lung cancer doesn’t run in my family. I couldn’t believe it,” Lorrie says.
Chemotherapy seemed to be working and on March 4, 2021 – Lorrie’s birthday, doctors gave her a clean bill of health. “They told me I was cancer-free,” she says. But they were wrong. Just three months later, her cough returned. A CAT scan showed the cancer was back in her lungs.
“At that point, they told me I had six months to live,” Lorrie says, choking up at the memory. “The doctor came in and told me to go home, talk to clergy and get my things in order. And then he just left. He basically said – get ready to go home and die.”
So, the next week Lorrie went and put a down payment on her funeral. Bradley, her husband of 28 years went a different route. He began calling every cancer facility he could think of or find and ended up finding a clinical trial in Pittsburgh that said they were exactly where Lorrie needed to be. He and Lorrie agreed.
Every 15 days for the last nine months, the couple closes their autobody repair shop and drives from their home in Erie, Pennsylvania to the clinical trial in Pittsburgh (about 128 miles and just over 2 hours) for experimental infusions that specifically target Lorrie’s type of aggressive cancer. The treatment requires the couple to stay in Pittsburgh for 4 days and the costs of the hotel stays plus gas added up fast – especially with the added burden of losing thousands of dollars a month each time they close their shop.
They were relieved when Lorrie’s clinical coordinator told them Lazarex Cancer Foundation could help by reimbursing them for the travel costs. “The financial burdens are still big. We’ve lost one income because I can’t work. We still close our business every 2 weeks to come for treatment. The cost of everything from gas to groceries is higher. But we’re not losing as much in our costs since we’re reimbursed about $600 every month from Lazarex. We are still stressed but that definitely helps,” Lorrie says.
And the best news of all is that the clinical trial treatment is working. Lorrie’s cancer is still there but her tumors are shrinking. She feels good and both she and her husband are holding on to hope and dealing with a little less anxiety in their life.
“My husband still worries a lot about our finances, although every bit we get from Lazarex helps. He’s also still worries a lot about me. He’s just amazing in the ways he cares about and for me,” Lorrie says. “I’m just trying to get up and have a positive attitude every day. I don’t want to wake up and be miserable. I have cancer, but I am definitely living with it and I’m really grateful to be part of the clinical trial helping me do that.”