Denise Cutlip – One of the neatest ladies I’ve ever met.
I originally “met” Denise online, who is known as Denzie on Inspire.com. She helps other survivors by sharing her insight and support often going on several times a day, including when she can’t sleep in the middle of the night. She told me “I saw the hopelessness in my family’s eyes when I was diagnosed and I want to help alleviate that for others.” I have no doubt that she has. Anyone who has ever talked to, or met her, can see the genuine compassion and love she has for others.
I got the pleasure of meeting Denise in person at Lungevity’s Hope Summit in DC in 2014. She had vibrant purple hair and an infectious smile. She is a wonderful woman that has really touched my heart.
Her connection to lung cancer-
Denise is no stranger to lung cancer. Her father passed away when she was just 15 from mesothelioma from working in boat yards and the plastic industry. She then lost her mother to adenocarcinoma lung cancer in 2006 shortly after being diagnosed. So when Denise was diagnosed on 10-10-10 with stage IV adenocarcinoma, her first thought was “Oh crap! What can I do to live longer than 6 months?”
She was given 15 months to live and she felt like she lost all of her independence. She did some research and later connected with other survivors on Inspire. Learning and sharing with others in her position is what gave her courage and hope to carry on. Even though her family just wanted her to rest, she did not want to be a burden on them. So she slowly started doing little things around the house, not only to contribute, but to also feel like a productive person again. She also started with short walks down the driveway, which eventually graduated to down the street, and then to a whole mile. She was finding her “new normal.”
This journey has not come without its hurdles. She had aggressive, concurrent chemo and radiation that kept her disease free for 3 years. But during that time she endured 4 vertebral fractures due to weakened bones, and procedures to deal with the fluid in her lungs and surrounding her heart.
As if dealing with lung cancer is not enough for one person, she was diagnosed with stage I breast cancer in 2014. She confessed “After dealing with stage IV lung cancer, I wasn’t scared about breast cancer at all. It was more of a nuisance. I learned a lot of tools about how to be involved with the decision making.” She had a lumpectomy and radiation and is now cancer free again.
A typical day for Denise:
“ I’ve taken back as much as my previous life as possible.” Working 2 days a week at her previous job scheduling at a radiology office for breast cancer screening, going to the gym a few days a week at the senior center, and driving her cousin or friends to doctor appointments is what keeps her busy. She loves to ride her bike and bake and somehow finds the time to volunteer with ACS community events, such as music festivals, heritage festivals, and info tables at events to educate the public about lung cancer. “I want to correct the misconceptions about it.”
What are you looking forward to? “The holidays and having family over. I love to cook.”
Something you might not know about her-
In the late 70s and early 80s she was a DJ of a punk rock radio show! Of course this totally explains the purple hair she loves to don. She still likes listening to Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Stranglers. This just makes me love her even more!
What do you want others to know about lung cancer?
“It’s not an automatic death sentence. When the doctor tells you you have only a few months to live, it’s based on a curve and no one can predict where you’ll be on that curve.”
What brings you hope?
“New research. That is the hope for the future. I believe that we can survive this. They’re coming up with new treatments all the time and I really think we can live with this as a chronic disease one day.”
It was my absolute pleasure hearing and sharing Denise’s story. She not only made it past 6 months, she’s made it past 5 years and is doing well. I know she will inspire you, just like she has me.
Each day during Lung Cancer Awareness Month (November), a lung cancer blogger will share a brief profile of someone involved with lung cancer. The person profiled might be a patient, caregiver, advocate, researcher, or healthcare provider.
Yesterday Kim Weineke profiled Anne Gallagher on her blog. Read about it here http://aquariusvscancer.com/
Tommorow’s post by Janet Freeman-Daily will be on http://grayconnections.net/, where she will profile Dr. Ross Camidge.
All profiles can be found the day after posting on the #LCSM Chat blog at http://lcsmchat.com/. A list of links to all the profiles on the original bloggers’ pages can be found at on the #LCSM Chat site on the Profiles in Lung Cancer page.