By Jeff Ehlers

Thanks to a small cough and a persistent wife, my lung cancer was caught at an early stage back in August of 2013 on a simple chest x-ray. At the time of my initial diagnosis, they said I was Stage IB non-small cell adenocarcinoma. I had the seven lymph nodes and the upper lobe of my right lung removed to get rid of the ping-pong ball sized tumor and followed up with four rounds of precautionary chemotherapy and I really figured that would be the end of this bump-in-the-road cancer story and my life was back to normal. I was finally pronounced NED in November of 2014 and I couldn’t have been happier!

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At my next quarterly oncology visit in February of 2015, I was informed that the latest chest x-ray had found an enlarged nodule in the lower lobe of my left lung that needed further investigation and for me, the process started all over again with CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, needle biopsy and eventually a wedge resection to remove a second cancerous tumor. After evaluation of tissue samples from both of my tumors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York, my diagnosis was changed to Stage IV large cell neuro-endocrine carcinoma. I am currently in the middle of six rounds of much more aggressive chemotherapy that should finish up in early October, which explains why I am clean-shaven for the first time in 20 years and have a new not-so-stylish summer hair cut.

From early-on in my cancer experience, Philippians 4:6-7 has been my go to scripture passage. I have tried to wear God out with the “tell Him what I need” portion of that passage and I’m learning daily about just how many things I have to thank Him for. I was fortunate to be able to attend the LUNGevity National HOPE Summit back in May of 2014. It was at that event where I was able to connect with other lung cancer survivors that I first accepted that this was my new normal. I would always be a cancer patient, but that didn’t mean that it was time to curl up into a ball and wait for this disease to drag me to the grave. Thanks to the support and fellowship with other survivors, I have truly seen HOPE in action and I can promise you that it is a wonderful thing! The online support network and the instant camaraderie between survivors is an incredible thing that has to be experienced to be believed. There are so many aspects to a cancer journey that only those who have been down that road can understand. This blanket is a beautiful reminder of the fact that each of us has the opportunity to offer HOPE to someone else as they go through their own cancer journey and I’m very thankful to have been able to receive it and pass it on.