“I've terminal cancer but I'm not giving up!”

Since her devastating diagnosis, Dyanne Søraas has devoted her life to fighting the dreaded disease and finding a cure.

Parents- I've terminal cancer but I'm not giving up!-main

“I moved from Singapore to Norway in 2007 to pursue a master’s degree. I fell in love with the country and ended up staying. It’s also where I met and married my husband Lars ― we had our daughter Naomi in 2014. It was a good pregnancy and birth and Lars and I were excited to start the next chapter in our lives.

Several months after having Naomi, I noticed I had lost 5kg. I didn’t think twice about it and chalked it up to the breastfeeding and being more active from having a baby. In fact, as a Singaporean girl who has spent most of her life trying to lose weight, I thought it was fantastic that I’d done it without even trying!

In January 2015, I started feeling a sharp pain in my hip. It started out quite mild but got increasingly worse. I saw a doctor who prescribed some painkillers. One day, while making up after a quarrel, Lars reached out to hug me. It was then that he felt a lump over my right collar bone. It wasn’t painful and you couldn’t even see it, only feel it.

On Googling, we realised it could be something serious. So, we went back to our doctor. He took it very seriously because he knew that when lymph nodes are not painful but swollen, it can be bad news.

The lump was sent for a biopsy and when I underwent a CT scan, it showed spots on the lungs that looked like it could be cancer. We refused to believe it though. I was a young, 30-year-old woman who had never smoked a day in my life. It’s not possible for me to get lung cancer. Didn’t that only happen to those who smoked?

"I was in complete shock... How did I go from being a healthy young woman with a baby one minute to only having six months to live the next?”

While waiting for the biopsy to come back, we were still staying positive and hoping it would be a lung infection or worst-case scenario, lymphoma. A few days later, my friend accompanied me to get my results. We were both so young and uneducated about cancer, but I was terrified at what I was about to find out.

The doctor said the words I didn’t want to hear. I had stage 4 lung cancer and it was inoperable, because it had spread to my brains and skeleton. Further research online told me that the average stage 4 lung cancer patient only had six months to live after a diagnosis. 

I was in complete shock. I felt like it was an April Fool’s joke or a bad nightmare that I was unable to wake up from. How did I go from being a healthy young woman with a baby one minute to only having six months to live the next?

The doctors did more tests to find out if I had any genetic mutations that could be driving the lung cancer. They found out that I had a genetic mutation called EGFR (or epidermal growth factor receptor). This mutation is found more frequently in a distinct group of lung cancer patients ― young East Asian women who are non-smokers.

In Singapore, 60 per cent of Asian women who have lung cancer have never smoked. So, even if you eliminate smoking, you still cannot prevent the majority of lung cancer cases ― it’s something not many people know. This is a big number, yet there’s very little awareness about it.

How did Dyanne handle her diagnosis? Read on...