Nebraska woman shares story after long battle with lung cancer
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Kimberly Buchmeier of Auburn was a 37-year-old wife and mother of three in 2011 when she got news that would change her life.
She had lung cancer, but she had never smoked.
In Nebraska, more than 650 people died of lung cancer this year alone, according to the American Cancer Society. Data presented by the organization shows lung cancer to be the most fatal type of cancer for men and women.
Buchmeier said that before her diagnosis, many doctors overlooked the problems she suffered.
“I’d seen six doctors, different types of doctors, trying to figure out what was going on,” she said. “And I had this back pain that was just really not going away with all the sickness I had. So I went and saw a spine specialist in Omaha. And he actually ran a scan and came back and said, ‘Hey, you know, you’ve, you’ve got a tumor on your lung.”
James Nelson, an oncology nurse navigator at CHI Health’s St. Elizabeth Hospital, said lung cancer is often symptom-free until it progresses.
“It’s a cough that won’t go away, infections that won’t go away, such as pneumonia or bronchitis, coughing up bloody sputum or phlegm — these are signs of what could be lung cancer.”
After two years of surgeries and chemotherapy, Buchmeier began to ask more questions about the cause of her illness, to which she found harrowing answers.
“I started asking a lot of questions, like ‘What are those environmental factors?’ ” she said.
Buchmeier had no testing done, but her doctor determined that radon caused her cancer.
“I was living with absolutely high levels of radon in my home for a very long time,” she said.
Once she knew what caused her bout with cancer, she began partnering with advocacy organizations like Citizens for Radioactive Radon Reduction and National Radon Defense, located in Omaha.
Buchmeier is passionate about sharing her story of survival and educating those who need it.
“Share your story,” she said. “You know your body, and when you know your body and you know something’s not right, advocate for it.”