Carole Berwick received a life-altering lung cancer diagnosis and was given just months to live. Then she found cCARE.
It’s been nearly a year since San Diego resident Carole Berwick was given just two months to live. After receiving an X-ray for a nagging shoulder injury, Carole’s doctor called with some unexpected and devastating news.
“He said they’d found masses in my lungs, and that I should get my affairs in order,” Carole recalls. Ultimately, the diagnosis was stage four terminal lung cancer. “I’d never smoked,” Carole explains. “Not even in high school. Not even my parents smoked! The last thing I ever thought could happen to me was lung cancer. It was unbelievable. I felt like someone needed to pinch me and wake me up.”
As a longtime caregiver for her disabled husband, Carole felt it was important to find a treatment center that was close to her home in San Diego. She went online trying to determine the best option available in her area. This search ultimately led her to make a phone call to cCARE.
“I was extraordinarily anxious and nervous and I really didn’t know where to start,” Carole recalls. “I called and made an appointment with Dr. Lamon because he had the earliest availability.”
Thoughtful & intelligent lung cancer treatment
As it turned out, Dr. Joel Lamon was a perfect fit. “He was the best doctor for me given my personality, background and values,” explains Carole. “He told me I was beyond many of the normal cancer treatment options, but he explained that today there are many new lung cancer treatment options available. After ordering a lung biopsy, he recommended a targeted therapy medication called Tarceva. I’ve been taking that medication ever since, and I’ll soon be celebrating one year since being diagnosed.”
While Carole is not cured of cancer, she’s found hope and peace in the lung cancer treatment received at the hands of Dr. Lamon.
“He is extremely proficient at pairing the person with the absolute best treatment available,” says Carole. “He attacked the situation with an enormous amount of thought and intelligence. Plus, he has a dry and subtle sense of humor that immediately resonated with me.”
Carole’s advice: defeat stress to defeat the cancer
Carole has spent much of her life working as a licensed psychologist, and as such she is no stranger to the deep connections between mental and physical wellbeing. Shortly after being diagnosed, she knew that she had to address the new and overwhelming feelings of anxiety that began to control her daily life.
“Because I’m a therapist, I understood the effect that the stress was having on my body,” she says. “And if you can’t defeat the stress, you can’t defeat the cancer.”
She clarifies those anxious feelings with a powerful analogy.
“Initially, I felt like a pilot at the controls of a crashing airplane,” Carole recalls. “My body was the plane and my brain was the pilot. I realized that before I could guide the plane downward, I had to first get ahold of myself. You have to find help and support for the stress that you’re going through if you want to reach your goals.”
Spreading words of hope and encouragement
In spite of her continued fight against the disease and the ongoing side effects of lung cancer treatment, Carole considers herself fortunate to be surrounded by the love and support of her friends, family and cCARE team. Moreover, she’s adopted a new mission of spreading hope and encouragement to other cancer patients.
“Regardless of the outcome, it’s terribly sad if you don’t have loved ones and friends next to you throughout the process,” she says. “I don’t think it’s possible to get through cancer without a good support system. I am very thankful to Dr. Lamon and the cCARE facility – without them, I might not even be here today.”
“I feel like God has a plan for all people,” says Carole. “And my plan is to help other people with cancer.” She hopes that by telling her story and encouraging others on a similar path, she will continue to live out her mission and purpose.