Seven years ago today, on a Thursday morning, I became a person with lung cancer.

For some reason, it is the moments leading up to the diagnosis that I recall most clearly. I’d been in the hospital for three days already, and my doctor at the time was stopping by before her regular appointments to discuss the biopsy results. We were waiting for my husband David, who was expected to join us but was running late. My doctor filled the awkward silence by describing either a story her daughter had written or a play she’d had a role in; I no longer remember which. The doctor talked at some length about a field of sunflowers, which was in some way central to the story or the play. “Sunflowers signify hope” she said.

I had spent the past fews day convincing myself that the mass in my lungs couldn’t possibly be lung cancer. I was only forty five, fit and had never smoked. People like me didn’t get lung cancer. So it never occurred to me that she was telling this story, not just to occupy time, but for my benefit. A blazing field of sunflowers would be the final image in my mind before the shock, fear and grief hit; the last thing I would recall before the world turned upside down was a symbol of hope.

It is a strange thing to commemorate; the day of diagnosis. But of course, what we are actually noting is our continued survival. Seven and counting.

30 responses to “Seven

  1. You are a rock star! Your strength and courage are truly inspiring.
    I know you don’t have a choice. But, your approach is a credit to your strong will & determination.

    My dad lived to the ripe old age of 91. He lived with his lung cancer diagnosis for seven months. We used to play domino’s together on rainy days. Your post & picture brought me many sweet memories.

    I’ll keep rooting & reading.


    • Hil, welcome and thank you for your kind words. I never learned to play dominos, but I love the way they look and the small heft of them. I’m sorry it was only seven months for your dad, but 91 is a success in its own right.


  2. such a touching post, Linnea. I didn’t know sunflowers signify hope. They are the flowers I leave at Sy’s bench every year on his birthday as well as the anniversary of his death… it makes sense

    • Lorraine, I researched sunflowers (just to make sure she was just making stuff up!) and indeed they are, for many, a symbol of hope. They certainly look hopeful and happy. Also, I found some articles where they have been used in chernobyl and Japan both to soak up radiation after the meltdown and the tsunami. In Japan, fields and fields of them, planted by monks…

      I like that they are the flower you leave for Sy. I love you Lorraine.


  3. You are truly AMAZING! We love you so much! m & k & l & c

    • Mel, it’s because I have amazing friends who’ve always helped me keep my head above water–some for a very long time!

      Love, Linnea

  4. YEA for the living! I always appreciate your very personal and moving posts..
    I’m a lung (and breast) cancer surviver – 4 years and counting! You are my role model and inspiration!
    love, Laurie

  5. Seven years and counting indeed! You are kicking Lung Cancers Ass! Keep at it girl!

    • Amy, kicking A I am. Even got some very pointy toe cowboy boots in the closet should they be needed…


  6. Linnea, you are my hero!
    I remember that one of the first posts I read from you (on Inspire) was about your 4 1/2 year mark (I was at 6 months); I was so impressed and thought – wow, that’s my role model! Not only making the months and years, but how you fill them and share your life. Thank you!
    I’m so fortunate to have met you, and I’m proudly trying to follow your surviving path.
    I love your friend,

  7. Ps. I like you new heading

    • Anja, I miss you! And you are well on your way down that path; a path that is long and winding and hopefully includes all sorts of junctures where we run into each other. Thanks for noticing the new heading. Thought a shift in attitude was called for 🙂

      Love, Linnea

  8. Seven is a lucky number-

  9. cheryl shields

    Seven and counting. You are a truly amazing person. I feel blessed to have met you. I look forward to reading your blog and connecting with you online.

  10. The diagnosis date leaves an indelible impression; in an instant life changes forever.

  11. Seven years and counting!!!
    You are the sunflower to many of us! (You are indeed a tall lady with a smiley face 😉
    I love you, Linnea!

    • Yuki, I have been thinking of you and wondering how you are. I like your image of me (tall lady with a smiley face) as a sunflower. I just need a hat with petals.
      Love you, Linnea

  12. Hurrah!! Congratulations and wishes for many, many more anniversaries. I am at 6 (but not officially until June 15th), and completely amazed by each day. A toast to more life, travel, art, adventure, love, memories…and scientific progress!

    Long may you run. You are a testament to us all!

    Love and light,

    • Jazz, I left a comment on your blog as well, but happy 6th to you (coming up). I’m still betting on a 7th as well…

      love and light right back at you,

  13. 7 Years is wonderful! You are a true inspiration. My husband and I just bought a bunch of sunflower seeds to plant around are garden. When I look at them I will think of the hope you have just given me today! Thank you! Mine will be 2 years and counting on May 3rd.

  14. Yay for 7…AND counting!

    Your words are inspiring and encouraging. Thank you for sharing them with people like me. I hope to follow in your 7+ footsteps.

    • Kimmywink, I have checked out your blog and I wish you the very best (and will be checking in on you now).


  15. Elvira Magpayo

    what a remarkable blog, I’m on my 4th month. Your blog is very inspiring. I’m new to this and I’m so glad that I came across to this amazing site. More power.

  16. Hi Linnea. I’m new to your blog but am so inspired by what I’ve read so far about your challenging journey. Thank you for sharing your stories to remind us of so many important things about life. Good health to you and congratulations on number 7! Such wonderful news for you and your family.

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