KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- A report released Wednesday found doctors diagnose almost 20 percent less people with lung cancer than they did 10 years ago.
The American Lung Association’s “State of Lung Cancer” report said 26 percent of people are living five years past their diagnosis.
Dr. Janakiraman Subramanian with St. Luke’s Hospital said it is more common to find lung cancer in the later stages, making it the deadliest cancer in the U.S.
“Lung cancer, the problem is,” Subramanian said. “There is no one symptom that you can pick and say you have lung cancer.”
Two years ago, Carol Meyers lost almost 20 pounds and had a cough that wouldn’t go away. She stopped smoking in 1972 and lives a very active lifestyle to this day.
No one suspected she had lung cancer until she found a lump on her neck. It was Stage 4 lung cancer.
She doesn’t let her diagnosis define her.
“I have curly grey hair. You know, I have hazel eyes,” Meyers said. “And, I have lung cancer.”
Subramanian tried a targeting gene therapy, but it only made Meyers cancer progress.
Now, Meyers gets chemo every three weeks. She said her life is almost back to normal.
“I go to bed at 9 p.m. instead of 10:30 p.m. or 11 p.m., and I’m blaming that on chemotherapy and not old age,” Meyers said. “Don’t talk about old age.”
At 82, Meyers is defining what it means to age in style.
Meyers works full time running a nonprofit, has season tickets to three different theaters and still manages to walk her dog three or four miles everyday.
“I would kind of like to be the poster child for aging,” Meyers said. “For some reason people think that when you hit a certain age you curl up and die.”
Six months before her diagnosis, she went skydiving. Two or three times a week, she’s teaching people younger than her how to navigate technology through the nonprofit she works for.
“I love it when somebody says, 'Oh honey, I’m just too old to learn how to do that stuff,” Meyers said. “I say you show me your driver’s license and show you mine.”
Meyers said she’s learned a lot from her cancer diagnosis. Most importantly, how to live.
“I learned a lot about what people need. So many of my friends have been ill over the years,” Meyers said. “I always thought I was doing things for them the right way, but I learned what people who are really sick need.”
She keeps a gratitude journal to write what she is thankful for each day.