Fit and healthy teacher diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer calls for screening of young people & non-smokers

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Despite leading a healthy lifestyle and being a non-smoker, Nastasha Loveridge was told she had incurable lung cancer and has now called for screening young people & non-smokers

A fit and healthy teacher has called for the screening of non-smokers and younger people after being diagnosed with incurable lung cancer. Nastasha Loveridge, 49, was told she had stage four lung cancer in December 2023.

After her diagnosis, she is now raising awareness that young and fit people can get lung cancer, which is the most common cause of cancer death in the country.

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Natasha said: "I really want to push for a national universal screening programme. We really need to put it down in people’s consciousness that if you’ve got lungs, you can get lung cancer.

"It’s raising the profile and getting rid of that stigma as well. I still find myself, even now, saying: ‘I’ve got lung cancer, but I don’t smoke!’"

Last June, the 49-year-old noticed her voice was huskier than usual, and her breathing sounded as if she had “swallowed a squeaky dog toy”. However, as the symptoms faded, she just attributed it to stress.

But they returned in August with a strange cough, which prompted Natasha to go to the doctors. She was referred to hospital where an x-ray uncovered a mass on her lung. Further tests and scans confirmed the abnormalities in her lymph nodes were most likely cancer.

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Four months later in December, she received the diagnosis of lung cancer. She was told it was most likely the EGFR+ mutation which is commonly seen in young women who are also non smokers like herself.

She said: "When it was first suggested, it was a complete shock. It was like I can’t have lung cancer. I am too young, I don’t smoke, I don’t know people who smoke, I am really fit, I used to run, I do lots of hill walks, I ride my bike, I do loads of yoga, and I eat predominantly a plant-based diet.

"Whenever I’d go to all these appointments, I was the youngest person there. It was just shock, and it was complete and utter disbelief. It’s like ‘It can’t be me’. To be quite honest, I still think that’s a little bit of that in me now."

Despite the crushing diagnosis, she is still determined to live a full life largely thanks to the help of the cancer growth blocking drug osimertinib. There is no current timeline for how long Natasha will live, but says the drug has allowed people to live for years.

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But, she doesn’t want to know how long she has left. Recent results have also been positive for Natasha, as scans have shown a 25 per cent overall reduction in her primary tumour.

She said: "You can live with stage four cancer. Nowadays, the treatments are sometimes so good that, actually, you can live a normal, happy, full life doing everything that you love.

"Just because you’ve got cancer it doesn’t mean to say that your life has to stop, because it really doesn’t. I don’t want to look over that cliff. As far as I’m concerned, I’m going to be here in 10 years time.

"Since having this diagnosis, it has totally reframed everything. It’s completely reframed my life. You are grateful for every single day and you live every single day as much as you can. You just find so much enjoyment even out of the smallest little things.”

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Natasha is raising funds for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and has organised events such as a sponsored walk up Scafell Pike and a 90s disco. She is trying to raise £500, and people can donate via Just Giving.

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