It's National Lung Cancer Awareness Month and a woman who smoked for nearly 50 years is celebrating one-year cancer free.

She said her life is better than ever now and she talked to 9NEWS about what helped her get through some of the difficult times.

"I wanted to use something like this," said Darlene Livingston. "I wanted to use some letters."

A card is often a gift, but for Livingston, it's a passion.

"It relaxes me," she said. "I make all of my own cards."

It has helped her get through some of the difficult times in her life like recently surviving cancer.

"I was kind of devastated because I thought this could never happen to me - like most smokers say," said Livingston.

She said she smoked almost her entire life. As a nurse, she spent years caring for others and felt she should have been more aware.

"I've seen all the horrible things of lung cancer and I still continued to smoke," she said.

It's something she dealt with 18 years ago when her husband died.

"Cancer took my husband so fast I thought, 'if I don't have anything done how long do I have and if I have something done how long do I have?'" she said.

Luckily, doctors at Swedish Medical Center caught the cancer early with a lung cancer screening.

"The cancer was only in my lung nowhere else in my entire body," Livingston said.

She underwent surgery and chemotherapy and a year later is cancer free.

"It's good, very good," Livingston said.

She said it lets her get back to doing the things she loves - like cardmaking.

People who are active smokers can sometimes qualify to get the lung cancer screening for free - you just need to check with your doctor. Experts say if detected early, cancer can be treated and sometimes cured.