Cancer Breakthroughs: Lung cancer survivor's story


by KING 5 News

Posted on October 20, 2009 at 12:11 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:45 AM

When we met Cecilia Izzo two years ago, her breathing was heavy. A diagnosis of stage four lung cancer left her with just one lung and a curved airway.

Jean Enersen: When we talk and people hear you, they're going to wonder is it difficult? Is it difficult to talk, to talk and catch your breath?

Cecilia Izzo: Oh, I have a joke with friends, I tell them I'd love to go for a walk with them, but I can't walk and talk. So it's tough.

Cecilia grew up in a family of smokers. She tried a few cigarettes as a teenager, but that was it.

Jean: Why do you suppose it was you?

Cecilia: I don't know why, we all have our things that happen.

While the odds of surviving lung cancer aren't good, they can be defied.

Now, five years after her diagnosis of lung cancer and two years after our first meeting, Cecilia is going strong.

Jean: There's been a lot of water over the dam since last we saw you, so how are you?

Cecilia: I'm great, I'm great today and I've been great for a little while , but as you know the last interview a couple of weeks after the last interview my airway collapsed because my heart and lung had shifted over to the right side where my right lung was removed.

The shifting stretched Cecilia's airway to the size of a straw. She couldn't breathe until doctors surgically moved her organs back into place and kept them there.

"And the reason that's the case is because she has a breast implant right inside her chest," said Dr. Renato Martins.

The adjustment also straighten Cecilia's airway. No longer does she breathe heavy, not like she use to.

Today Cecilia stays healthy by exercising regularly and she keeps her cancer in remission with a pill, targeted therapy specifically designed for her condition.

It's considered a breakthrough in how lung cancer can be controlled.

Cecilia: But I went on the targeted therapy just in case because really all it takes is one little cell and its right back again, so< /p>

Jean: And interestingly, you said "I'm very healthy except for having cancer."

Cecilia: I am very healthy and everyone when they see me, they find out I have cancer and it's "But you look so good" and I laugh because as they are throwing dirt on me it's going to be, "but you look so good." It's not that I try to be a role model for anybody, I just am who I am and I just do it.

Jean: You just are.

Cecilia: Exactly.