David and his son, Connor.

By David Marshall

Four years ago I was told I had stage 4 lung cancer. I remember the day well.

At the time, I was 40 years old, in great shape and very energetic. I had developed a horrible cough and a small bump on my head that had me concerned. After a couple trips to the doctors and a few tests, it became apparent that I had lung cancer, even though I had never smoked in my life.

Next thing I know, I am meeting with an oncologist and starting a vigorous chemotherapy regimen. After about six months, when chemo was no longer working to shrink tumors in my lungs, head and now liver, my doctors put me on a targeted therapy, Gilotrif, which worked about 18 months. Now I am on a clinical trial through Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, OR. Over the past year, my cancer has been maintained at a certain level, but unfortunately, it is still stage 4, and most likely will always be until research finds a way to break through with a cancer killer.

Through this entire process I have worked full time at both of my jobs: a manager in retail and, most importantly, a father to my two boys – and 18 year old and a seven year old – who mean the world to me. My younger son, Connor, asks a lot of questions about cancer and I try to answer them the best I can without scaring him.

I have been through so much in the last four years, but through it all I have tried to keep a strong spirit and loving attitude. Cancer truly changed me as a person. Not only did it bring me closer to my family, especially my sons, but it also helped me to be a more loving person, a better listener and more appreciative of all that I have.

Father’s Day was never really a big day to me before I was diagnosed, but now it means so much more. Seeing my children makes my day (even though Connor wears me out pretty good at times!).

To those who are newly diagnosed with cancer, my advice is this…Just Breathe! Take life one day at a time and enjoy the time you have with family and friends. Pray often and love your kids more than ever! I was told I had several months; they were wrong. I’m now four years in and I’m still living the same life. Try to be normal, it makes you feel better. And last but not least, keep a positive attitude. You may not feel good but you need to get out of that bed and try and be active — YOU WILL FEEL BETTER.

Join David and his sons at Lung Love Run/Walk Portland on Saturday, June 23, 2018 at Laurelhurst Park in Portland, Oregon to walk (or run) a 5K in the fight against lung cancer. Sign up today!