Mary Williams

Mary Williams

Stage IV Lung Cancer Survivor; Patient Advocate

Mary Williams is a wife, a mother of two, and a high school special education teacher for 20 years.  She loves to read and belongs to a local book club.  Mary also belongs to another club: lung cancer survivor.  After discovering a sore on her leg, a subsequent bump and developing a cough, she decided to get checked out.  While waitingfor MRI results, Mary found a third spot.  A scheduled trip to the ER for blood work appeared to raise some red flags for a nurse practitioner but was brushed off by the ER doctor as nothing serious.  The nurse practitioner ordered a chest X-ray for Mary, and the ER doctor came back with the results: masses on the liver and lungs.  His first question to her was, “Did you ever smoke?” 

Mary knew it was cancer and she was immediately admitted to the ICU with multiple blood clots.  She was diagnosed with stage IV adenocarcinoma and chose to have genetic testing.  With a husband who Mary describes as “her rock,” they decided to enter a Phase I clinical trial for alectinib that she took twice a day in combination with immunotherapy.  Five months later, just before Thanksgiving of 2015, Mary’s tumors had shrunk from the size of oranges to that of grapes with no disease progression. Today, she continues to live with side effect, but she describes her quality of life as “good.”  “I have a great support system, but I lost friends over my diagnosis.”  Mary’s advice to other cancer patients is “Don’t listen to your doctor’s timelines.  Get genetic testing.  If you don’t feel comfortable with your doctor, move on. Don’t give up and stay positive.”  Mary’s final comment to anybody listening is “If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer!”

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Page last updated on September 9, 2016