My name is Anna Lazic. I was diagnosed with LAM in 2001 at the age of 37. Initially, my symptoms were shortness of breath and coughing up of blood; not copious amounts, as was the case up until 2 years ago but enough to plant the seed that something was terribly wrong. Cancer was my initial, terrifying thought.After a number of chest x-rays and finally a CT scan, my GP told me that he thought I had a condition that was extremely rare but didn’t know enough about it regarding proper diagnosis and/or treatment. He thought it best to refer me to one of the few lung specialists who knew about LAM.
The specialist told me that I had between one and ten years (at best) of life and that there was no cure for LAM. He had no idea what caused it, other than a gene mutating and that it was a condition affecting women only, who were post pubescent and pre menopausal. I was shocked and felt completely numb! Not only was I consumed with the fear of death at such a young age but how could I, a woman who lived a healthy life and never smoked, be afflicted with such a condition? How was I to tell my loved ones? Why was I having to decide whether or not to conceive a child. After all, I had been planning a family with my husband of 2 years that same year and now, I was told it was much too risky. Was it selfish even contemplating the thought of pregnancy or was it selfish denying us a child, so that I may have a longer chance at life? The only blessing was my husband’s son from a previous marriage. My stepson was my Godsend and although we had wanted to give him a brother or sister, this was (perhaps) God’s way of bringing my husband and stepson into my life, to fill that void that LAM had predetermined.
Fast forward ten years and 2 years on an immunosuppressant drug called Rapamune, I am happy to say that I am still alive and trying to make the most of whatever life I have ahead of me. Although I am very short of breath and can barely walk 10 meters without a break, Rapamune has worked wonders on suppressing the copious amounts of blood I was coughing up daily. It was originally prescribed to shrink the LAM related tumours smothering my abdomen and bowel areas but seems to have worked its magic on suppressing my gurgling and coughing up of phlegm and blood! I rely on oxygen to get me by on my bad days and fear I will have a heart attack every time I do anything remotely “active”. (LAM has also been attributed to my having pulmonary hypertension). LAM has denied me many things but it can never deny me the love I have for my family and friends and life in general. I feel so blessed that I’ve made it to ten years and pray that I can have, at least, another ten years with my beautiful family and amazing friends.
One of those friends writes: My dear friend with LAM is Anna Lazic or you may know her as Anna Hristodoulakis. Whilst her condition hasn’t reached the severe stages as some women, Anna is clearly affected by LAM as I’ve known her of 20+ years and see the changes in her. I can’t speak highly enough of Anna. She is an amazing woman who is an inspiration to all those around her. Not just because of her strength in her LAM battle, but her complete outlook on life and her humanity. She is a wonderful role model.