Through the Lens of a Lung Cancer Patient Advocate
My name is Sandra Britton, also known as Sandy, and I have been a lung cancer patient at Moffitt for the past 26 months.
I am 70 years old and have lived in Clearwater since 1995. Before that, I lived in London and Malta, a little tiny island in the Mediterranean. I have a daughter and two grandchildren in England, one son in Sydney, Australia and one son in Tampa. I also have a wonderful husband so I am very blessed. He has just retired after working over 30 years offshore overseas. In my London years, I was a dress designer with my own company designing frivolous evening wear. In the USA I worked for the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce.
In January 2013, I was diagnosed with a 1.7 cm malignant tumor in my right lung. But I put my health on the back burner to travel 12,000 miles to Malta every month to visit my sick mother. I didn’t get back to the doctor until December 2013. The doctor was not happy I had waited so long and the CT scan now showed a large 6 cm tumor. I did not know of anyone with cancer and had no knowledge of lung cancer or any treatment I would need.
I had a lobectomy and a 7 cm non-small cell adenocarcinoma was found. After rounds of chemotherapy, I was told that I had no cancer.
But in July 2015, a CT scan showed 4 nodules. Doctors told me there was nothing they could do and to make a bucket list. My son from Australia found me a great surgeon, Dr. Eric Toloza at Moffitt. This was my first time ever hearing of Moffitt and Dr. Toloza was able to do a wedge section robotically with the Da Vinci robot.
A few months later, I met Dr. Scott Antonia when I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. He gave me all my options and we decided on OPDIVO, a new immunotherapy treatment that had just been approved by the FDA.
I am now on my 46th treatment of OPDIVO and my tumors have continued to shrink. I have a fantastic team that works with me: Dr. Antonia, Sam, Michelle, Denise and many others. I cannot thank Moffitt enough for saving my life. My oncologist explains everything to me in a language I understand and I love him to bits. I am very lucky I still get to go to the gym, walk, bike ride and go floating in the sea. I love watching the dolphins. When the grandchildren are over, I go to Disney and the water parks and I also go to parties and concerts. I have a life thanks to Moffitt.
Sandy has connected with the LATTE Program to become a Patient Advocate for Lung Cancer Awareness. Welcome, Sandy!