It’s a day Arash Golbon will never forget, a day seven months ago when doctors gave his wife devastating news. “It’s Friday and Molly called at 4 o’clock in tears,” Golbon recalled. “Something’s on the CT, there’s something on your neck, there’s something on top of your lung, and they think its cancer.” It turned out it was Stage 4 lung cancer.
“I remember just standing there hearing its cancer, and it’s malignant unfortunately, and I wish it wasn’t in her bones.” Golbon said. “39-year-old’s are not supposed to get cancer, and 39 year old non-smoking healthy girls should not get cancer and especially lung cancer, because I associate that with smokers, but I was wrong.”
Through testing doctors found out Molly had a type of gene mutation, called EGFR, which meant she could take an oral medication called Tarceva. Right after Molly started taking it, she started feeling better. “Now Tarceva is not a pain reliever, it doesn’t treat symptoms, so it either works for you or it doesn’t,” Arash said. “So it doesn’t make you feel better unless it’s working, so we knew right away it was working, so we’re very glad that it’s working.”
The Husband the Researcher
Since Molly’s diagnosis last November, Arash has been the one to scour the internet looking for hope. At first he didn’t find much. “Unfortunately if you look at the internet with lung cancer, the internet tends to be about five years outdated and statistics can be very confusing,” Arash said. “I started going to this one website and that actually added more anxiety. You see more people are suffering and you don’t get much of good news because these people are going through hell. I was lucky enough to get one lady on there who has been on the same medication as my wife and she was very helpful and she did a very good job of calming me down.” Once calmed down, he used Twitter to find recent and reliable research. “I found something on twitter called lung cancer social media they call it #lcsm,” Arash said. “They’re putting the latest research and I can see what’s coming out and I have to tell you when I started looking in November, and six, seven months later, a lot of things have already changed. A lot of things are coming through the pipeline.”
Arash also acts as an internet filter for his wife. She concentrates on getting healthy and he focuses on the latest research. “I don’t tell her everything I read online because she doesn’t really need to know the bad stuff. She already knows in the back of her mind. She’s smart enough to know what she has,” Arash said. “If I see something good, I let her know and fortunately lately it’s been a lot of good news.”
As a spouse of someone living with cancer, it’s not easy. “I don’t know if I was strong at every point, because you can’t be,” Arash said. “It’s like your worst nightmare coming true.” As difficult as it has been, he’s found strength from support groups like the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and Lungevity. “It does help me to talk to this group of people who are younger who have been diagnosed, and surprisingly, they’re all doing really, really well,” Arash said. “By talking and sharing research it makes us all feel better I think.”
Living with Lung Cancer as a Family
Molly and Arash are parents to two young girls, Madison and Dylan. “Here’s the thing, when a family member gets cancer, it’s not just the patient. We all have cancer,” Arash said. “It affects all of us. It affects me. It affects my older daughter, so it’s just not her.” While their daughters know Molly has cancer, it doesn’t define their family.
“I don’t want it to become part of my children’s life. They already know their mom has this thing, but they don’t need to hear about it every day.” So they don’t. For the most part, they live their lives like a lot of families. They go to school. They go to work. And they go on vacation. Yes vacation even with lung cancer.
In May, the Golbon’s spent a week on a much needed cruise.
“We have to live our life. We have to live like everything is normal especially when you have small children.”