May 21, 2023 | 4:55 p.m
A woman from England has been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer – despite never smoking.
Natasha Loveridge, 49, was shocked when she was diagnosed with the condition in December and now wants to raise awareness for others who may be affected by it – and may not even know it.
“I really want to push for a national universal screening program,” Loveridge said, according to Southwest News Service.
“We need to put it in people’s consciousness that if you have lung cancer, you can get it.”
Loveridge, an elementary school teacher, recalled that one of her first symptoms was funny-looking gasps last June.
According to SWNS, she “reminisced about her breathing sounding like she had swallowed a squeaky dog toy, and her voice was huskier than usual.”
But those signs disappeared for a while, so she called it stress.
It wasn’t until August that they got back together with Sal – and she went to the doctors. They sent her to the hospital. There, she received an X-ray that revealed a mass on her lung.
After further tests, they found some abnormalities in her lymph nodes – and later the doctors confirmed that she did indeed have lung cancer.
According to SWNS, Loveridge said she was shocked to receive the diagnosis, as she has always lived a healthy lifestyle – she doesn’t smoke, and eats a mostly plant-based diet.
“It was a complete shock when it was first suggested,” she said, according to SWNS. “It was like I couldn’t get lung cancer.”
“I’m very young, I don’t smoke, I don’t know anyone who smokes, I’m very healthy, I run, hike a lot, bike, do a lot of yoga, and eat a mostly plant-based diet.
However, doctors told her that her cancer was most likely due to a gene mutation called EGFR+.
EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) is a protein on your cells that helps them grow – but if you have a mutation in the gene, it can grow too much, causing cancer, he says. American Lung Association.
Many people diagnosed with EGFR+ cancer do not have a history of smoking, like Loveridge.
“Every time I went to all these appointments, I was the last person there,” she said, according to SWNS. “It was just shock, and complete and utter disbelief.
The 49-year-old is currently taking the anticancer drug osmertinib, which has already shown her first tumor to shrink by 25 percent.
It’s unclear what her prognosis is, but she doesn’t let anything stop her or hold her back.
“Nowadays, the treatments are sometimes so good that you can live a normal, happy, full life doing all the things you love,” she said.
“Just because you have cancer doesn’t mean your life has to stop, because it really doesn’t.”
She is Raising money For the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, a lung cancer research charity working to help those affected by the disease.
Loveridge added that cancer has changed how she views her own life.
“Since that diagnosis, it’s completely fixed everything. It’s completely fixed my life,” she said.
“You are grateful for each day and you live each day as best you can. You find so much joy in even the smallest things.”