Jodie, 50, RURAL VICPalliative care nurse and mother-to-three, Jodie, 50, Mulwala, regional Victoria, survived two severe episodes of pneumococcal pneumonia, before being diagnosed with stage three lung cancer in March, 2015.

When relocating from Melbourne to regional Victoria in 2011 for a country lifestyle, the occasional smoker felt relatively well. However, three years later, in early August 2014, Jodie developed a high temperature and severe nausea, which quickly escalated.

On August 26, 2014, Jodie was diagnosed with pneumonia, for which she was immediately prescribed antibiotics. Ten days later however, showing no improvement, she returned to hospital to commence another six-weeks, of a various range of antibiotics.

After mounting a monumental, five-month-long recovery from the infection, Jodie contracted another pneumococcal infection. Five months later, on March 27, 2015, Jodie’s former doctor in Melbourne reviewed the report and confirmed she was living with stage three lung cancer, which had spread to her bones.

This is Jodie’s story.

“Having worked in hospitals for nearly 15 years, and receiving an annual flu shot, I knew the symptoms I was exhibiting – fever, cough and phlegm – were not typical of the common cold or flu. I was certain my problem was significantly more serious,” Jodie said.

When Jodie first visited the doctor in early August, 2014, to enquire about her symptoms, she questioned whether they were associated with her recent withdrawal from smoking. After interpreting her X-rays however, her doctor confirmed this was not the case, but rather, that she had contracted a severe case of pneumococcal pneumonia.

Jodie struggled to recover from this first episode of pneumonia. After completing an initial 10-day course of antibiotics, and abiding by her prescribed bed rest, Jodie showed no signs of improvement.

“I was completely bedridden at the time, and had to keep a bucket next to my bed because I was producing so much phlegm, that I couldn’t even stand up to go to the bathroom,” said Jodie.

After completing her first course of antibiotics, Jodie was sent home for another three weeks on a different course of antibiotics.

“Before learning I had contracted pneumococcal pneumonia again, I mistakenly assumed I had caught a bug at work, otherwise known as the ‘100 day’ cough,” Jodie said.

After raising her health concerns with her local doctor, Jodie underwent an immediate X-ray that confirmed she had, in fact, re-contracted pneumonia. The X-ray also revealed a lesion on the lower lobe of her right lung.

Armed with her new test results, Jodie travelled to Melbourne to seek a second professional opinion from her former family doctor, who subsequently conducted a CT-scan which confirmed she was living with stage three lung cancer that required radical treatment.

Following this appointment, Jodie was referred for an urgent positron emission tomography (PET) scan, which confirmed the exact location of the cancer, and was admitted to hospital to commence her six week course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

“On June 1, 2015, I was on my fifth and final week of chemotherapy. But my pneumoniae episodes had weakened my immune system to such an extent, that I was unable to complete my chemotherapy. My body literally had nothing left to fight the cancer,” Jodie said.

“I was a mess at the time, because I thought the whole treatment process that I had endured to date, was a waste of time. I felt mentally and physically exhausted.”

After being recently informed that her cancer has spread to her bones, Jodie has just recommenced a second round of radiotherapy.

Given she only has one lung working at full capacity, Jodie must therefore, take every precaution to preserve her lung health, which includes an annual flu shot, which she had a few weeks ago, and vaccination against pneumococcal pneumonia, to help ward off further respiratory infections.

“I encourage everyone who is at risk of pneumococcal pneumonia, whether due to their age (65+), or chronic disease, to take as many precautions as possible to ward off infection, in order to best protect themselves, and their loved ones,” said Jodie.

“During my second episode of pneumonia, my daughter contracted a bad flu, and was unable to work for a days. I was so incredibly thankful at the time that I had recently been vaccinated against flu.

“Vaccinations are very important, particularly if you are working in an environment that places you in close contact with others, which heightens your risk for infection,” Jodie said.