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Hope Faith Belief and Support (The Spirit Side of Humans) - Part 4

Written by: Normand Dubreuil
Published: March 2015

I got a little side track with a bump in the road, but I’m back to finish my story. What’s that bump? It will come out as I keep writing…my story continues.

In July of 2013, I last left off talking about being shocked with the news of, “You have Stage IV Lung Cancer and it’s not curable or operable.”

Thursday, June 20th after my doctor’s appointment, my wife’s boss spoke with me and highly recommended that I get a second opinion. Later that evening, my eldest son called me to tell me that I needed to get a second opinion. The recommendation was to go to DANA-Farber in Boston.

The next day a fellow colleague came to see me and we discussed the advantages of getting a second opinion from DANA-Farber and he offered to drive me down to Boston. Now, being told once is one thing, but three times in a row I really needed to listen. So I requested a referral to DANA-Farber and received one without hesitation.

Monday, June 24th, I went in to the cancer center for a chemotherapy teaching. On this day, I also received a call from DFCI letting me know they had an opening on Wednesday, June 26th, which I accepted.

I took my colleague up on driving us down to Boston (my wife, son and me). The doctor at DFCI reviewed my file and scans and recommended a different cocktail of medication. I was asked to cancel the first part of my vacation to start chemotherapy right away because it was serious. I felt more at ease and at peace once I spoke with this doctor. He told me that together we will fight this disease and that it was important to have hope. He also said that he was going to test my tissue sample for a Gene Mutation and get back to me. When I got home, I requested to change my local doctor, which was granted instantly.

Friday, June 28th, was my first chemotherapy session—one of my colleagues from work brought over a lobster roll and food as well as several emails and cards from staff and had various other visitors which made the time go by quickly.

On Monday, July 1st, another colleague and his wife brought over a care package and expressed their concerns and wished me well. They understood because of the cancer their family was dealing with.

On Thursday, July 4th, my wife and I took a bus to Logan Airport and flew out to Texas to visit my son and his family. (All we had to go through at the airport is a story in itself). The following morning I arose and found myself alone while everyone else was still sleeping. During this time I read the emails from staff which affected me emotionally. With streams of tears coming down my face, I felt so grateful that I was blessed with so many wonderful individuals who cared so deeply about me. They provided me with hope and inspiration and I am so happy that they are in life.

On Thursday, July 11th, the doctor from Boston called me to give me great news! He had the lab test my biopsy samples and found out that my Gene Cell Mutation is an EGFR (Epidural Growth Factor Receptor); meaning that chemotherapy works well for this type of Gene Mutation and now we are talking about adding on years to my life and not just months.

This was unbelievable news and made my day, however, I was still kind of numb from the news that I had cancer.

We traveled back home without incident and I returned to work on Monday.

On July 18th, I called for a special board meeting of the credit union’s official to discuss my medical condition and a succession plan. The board members were very accepting of the fact that I would need to be taking some time off. They have treated me right and I appreciate that they worked with me through these trying times.

I had my second chemotherapy treatment on July 19th and, like the first time, I had visitors and my colleague brought over a strawberry shortcake ice cream. These little things go a long way; letting me know that I am thought of and cared for really helps to boost your morale and to keep fighting.

In church on Sunday I was asked to speak to the congregation about my journey. I spoke about the blessings we receive even through our trials. I skipped over the anger portion of my journey and asking the question “Why ME” because that would not help my situation. Instead, I chose to find ways that would help me get through this ordeal and become a better person.

On Monday, August 5th, I had a CT scan and on Wednesday August 7th, I met with the doctor. After reviewing my scan, he informed me that he didn’t like the direction my cancer was going in. He set up another PT Scan and MRI and scheduled another time for us to discuss the outcome. He said that the top of the right lung looks a little worse than previously and noticed a half dozen brain lesions. He decided to stop the chemotherapy treatment and tried an oral medication that is FDA approved especially for patience with an EFGR Gene Mutation. This medication is made to target the cancer directly.

Right through October, all went well. I took this medication; one pill a day and, outside of a few side effects, I was doing physically, spiritually and emotionally quite well. In November I received great news that my cancer was regressing; lungs were clearing up – mass was shrinking and nodules were nearly gone, my adrenal gland and lymph nodes were clear and my brain lesions were no longer visible.

September and October were filled with cards, emails, phone calls, personal visits, gift boxes, etc. Everyone was concerned about me and I was really touched. I am becoming a better individual because of everyone’s thoughts and prayers. I am inspired how everyone I know really cares and wants to help in their way. A quote from an unknown author “Dream like you will live forever, live like you will die today.”

What is it about trials?   What do we need to learn?

Normand Dubreuil

Normand Dubreuil

Normand Dubreuil was the President and CEO of Maine State Credit Union. He has two professional designations; CCUE - Certified Credit Union Executive and CCE -Certified Chief Executive. He's was with MSCU from 1985 - 2016 and worked in the credit union industry since 1977. His educational background is Accounting and Business Administration. He worked with the credit union's philanthropic cause, Maine Credit Unions Campaign for Ending Hunger. He served as a board member for the credit union's state trade association and was also the chairman of their Technology Services Committee. Normand also serves in his church in various leadership roles. He is married, has four children and twelve grandchildren.

After being diagnosed in 2013 with stage IV lung cancer he decided he wanted to be an advocate for the cause in providing hope, encouragement and inspiration to other lung cancer survivors and families. Being involved with a lung cancer organization has provided him the opportunity to reach out to others, touch lives and assist those with needs. In some small way he is hoping to give of himself in order to help others achieve their goals. He served as a board member for Free ME from Lung Cancer foundation.