Living, Laughing, and Loving Through Lung Cancer
In the weeks leading up to her 43rd birthday, Felishia Finch of Claxton, Georgia, was not feeling well. She was tired and found it difficult to breathe. She thought maybe she had pneumonia. Her boyfriend insisted she go to the doctor. An X-ray revealed a spot on Finch’s lung. She was quickly referred to the Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute (ACI) at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah.
Finch was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. She was told a 6-centimeter tumor had already destroyed half of her right lung. And the tumor had fingers that wrapped around her pulmonary artery. Finch received this news on April 11, 2006 – her birthday.
“It was a shock. It brought me to my knees. I felt like I was walking around with a time bomb inside of me,” said Finch.
The first step in Finch’s treatment was surgery. But because the tumor was wrapped around her pulmonary artery, it could not be removed. Instead, Finch received 20 rounds of radiation treatment to her chest and a four-hour infusion of chemotherapy drugs. The treatments did nothing to shrink the tumor. Finch was told she had four years to live.
“I didn’t ask God why. I just asked him to help me,” said Finch.
She was not about to give up – this was a battle and she was going to fight. Finch stopped looking at lung cancer information online, because it was too depressing. She resolved to enjoy every moment with her boyfriend and her daughter. During that same period, she re-established a relationship with her father, even though they had been estranged for years. He went with her to every treatment.
“Looking back, cancer was a blessing to me, because it brought my daddy back to me,” said Finch.
She received more chemotherapy, including a grueling treatment of three drugs that required an eight-hour infusion each time.
“I was bald and green! But I never wore a hat or a scarf. I showed my bald head because I was proud to be alive,” said Finch.
One day after a difficult treatment, Finch’s boyfriend surprised her with a tiny Jack Russell terrier puppy. Finch was thrilled. She named the puppy Jack and she says he was the best therapy she could have asked for.
Finch continued the cycle of treatments and scans at the ACI. She and her dad would often crack jokes in the ACI waiting room and try to make the other patients laugh. Finch made it her mission to spread happiness and hope.
In August 2008, Finch was in her doctor’s office waiting to hear the results of her latest lung scan. Her doctor delivered wonderful news – the tumor was now just scar tissue. She had beaten the odds. She was a cancer survivor.
“I could not have asked for anything better in my treatment. The ACI made my walk through this disease a lot easier,” said Finch.
On April 11, 2014, Finch celebrated her 51st birthday. Since beating lung cancer, she and her boyfriend have gotten married. She was blessed with a beautiful grandson. She helped her dad through prostate cancer treatment. She continues to receive unconditional love from Jack. And she’s growing her hair long for Locks of Love, an organization that uses donated hair to make hairpieces for children who are bald from medical treatment. Best of all, she remains cancer free.
“For me, every day is a blessing. I thank God every night,” said Finch.
The ACI offers low-dose CT screening for early lung cancer detection. Learn more.