CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - Francine Maigue said she’s never smoked anything in her life, so getting a stage four lung cancer diagnosis at just 38-years-old was a shock.
“My doctor was really good about it, she held my hands and she said you have cancer,” said Francine.
Francine became the first patient at Sharp Chula Vista’s Douglas & Nancy Barnhart Cancer Center to receive an Ommaya reservoir, a permanent implant under the scalp that delivers chemotherapy directly to the cancer source in the brain.
Now two and a half years later after that diagnosis, and not only do her treatments continue but so does her motivation to educate. Through research, Francine discovered that 10-20% of lung cancer patients are just like her and have never smoked, a statistic backed by the CDC. The American Cancer Society also said the leading cause of death among men and women in the U.S. is lung cancer.
With that knowledge, Francine hopes to educate others on the severity of this form of cancer, encouraging people to get screened.
“I feel the clock ticking all the time but the truth is none of us know how much time we have," she said. "All we know is that we’re here in the now and there are people and projects and initiatives to be so grateful for. So as long as I can help out with that progress in any way, that’s a gift that I’m grateful for.”
Her positive attitude is helping lift her up. Nurses and staff at the Barnhart Cancer Center said she comes in with a smile every day, despite her difficult diagnosis.
“I truly admire her optimism, her resilience, her positivity,” Registered Nurse Zoe Sabinano said.
For the month of November, Francine decorated white ribbons around the center in honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month. She’s also a leader outside of her treatments, spending her time as the District Director for Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the President and CEO of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce and serving on sharp Chula Vista’s Foundation Advisory Board. All with the goal of giving back.
“Trying to help out folks as much as I can because that’s what life’s about right,” she said.