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Just found out I have cancer

mamacita5's picture
mamacita5
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2010

I am numb. I wake up in the morning and just can't believe it. Please tell me this sense of hopelessness will go away. I need to function for my family, I have to go to work. I know that I need to be positive and get into the right frame of mind to fight this demon that has invaded my body. I had a bad bout of bronchitis in February and finally went in to see if I could possibly have pneumonia. Doctor told me my lungs were clear and sent me home. My primary care doc called a couple of weeks later to say he saw a shadow and would like me to have a follow-up x-ray which I did. He then called and told me the shadow was still there and sent me for a CT. His nurse called me late on a Friday night to tell me I had a lung tumor. Devastating weekend of fear. I went to the phonologist who showed me my CT and explained that a 2" mass is located in my left lung near my aorta. She did say that it does not appear to be attached to the aorta and should be able to be removed surgically. Biopsy confirmed NSCLC. I had my PET yesterday and will speak to the surgeon next week. The waiting is excruciating. I am feeling slight discomfort in my joints and under both arms, which is confusing because I was told that the lymph nodes looked clear. Every ache and pain seems to be telling me that the cancer has spread. Sorry if this is rambling but I know that you are the only ones who truly know what I am going through right now. Sad thing is...I don't know if I can be called a survivor yet.

PBJ Austin
Posts: 347
Joined: Mar 2009

Hello mamacita and welcome to this board. I joined this board in March 2009 when my then 25-year-old sister was diagnosed with brain cancer and they gave her 3-7 years to live. Just 3 months later I was told (mistakenly) that I had lung cancer. In both of these incidents I remember thinking I will wake up and it will all be a bad dream. Also in both cases I thought the worst--my sister and I would both be gone in just a few years.

Although I eventually discovered I did not have cancer, I still haven't forgotten the emptiness I felt when I thought I did have it. I haven't forgotten the excruciating feeling of waiting and wondering what the future holds for me. To say it's hard is a terrible understatement.

I don't know this with certainty, but the aches and pains you are feeling could be from stress. Please do not be afraid to ask the doctor for meds to calm your nerves. My husband and I took Xanax and it did help.

I learned a lot from this board and I will share a few of the highlights. I learned that waiting is a part of this game. No matter how fast you get answers it won't seem fast enough. I also learned there is hope. So many people on this board have beat this monster and you can too. My sister is a prime example. As I mentioned above she was given 3-7 years upon the diagnosis, however after a year of treatment she is cancer free. The cancer might come back some day but then it might not, we just don't know. We have learned to celebrate small victories so right now we are feeling very triumphant.

Please stay in touch with this board, there are so many great people here who can help. And whatever you do, please do not give up hope. You and the rest of this board will be in my thoughts and prayers.

mamacita5's picture
mamacita5
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2010

Just a moment ago I was feeling hopeless again... then I read your post and it cheered me up. Thanks so much.

halfpint1
Posts: 6
Joined: May 2010

the meds will calm your nerves and help you through this. I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. I told the doctors right away you better give me something or I will never survive the stress of this. They did and have stayed positive. Hope, faith, and positive thinking will get you through this. Oh it is in the back of my mind. I am done with chemo and on to radaiation. I will not know what the future holds for me only GOD does. Stay away from any persons speaking negative, or bad news you want to hear the success stories only.

Glenda N.
Posts: 13
Joined: Jun 2009

I know what you are going through. I was diagnosed with non small cell cancer in my left lung, almost 3 yrs ago. Had my entire left lung removed because the tumor was sitting on both lobes. I have been cancer free for almost 3 yrs. The waiting is so hard, but you will find out more when you get your petscan results. My husband & I also used xanax to help get us through the first couple of months. The scariest time in our life. You will get through this also.

mamacita5's picture
mamacita5
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2010

Thank you for your suggestions and support.

cabbott
Posts: 1048
Joined: Aug 2006

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I remember being paralyzed with fear that just didn't stop. It wasn't anything like the fear one gets from scary movies or a ride at the fair. This fear didn't quit when day was done. It went on for days and days. Other folks told me that I was handling it well. They didn't see what I was feeling like on the inside.

Several things helped. Getting a treatment plan helped me the most. Then I knew what was going to happen, at least for the next week or so at a time. Meeting survivors and hearing their stories helped a lot too. All I used to know about cancer is that you can die from it. I didn't know that it is something most folks live with. They are keeping 20 year stats now on breast cancer survivors and folks with other kinds of cancer are living longer too. Anything you hear or read that happened two years ago is already way way way outdated. Cancer research is changing that fast. By the way, it takes two years to get a book in print. So even this year's books are old in terms of what can be done for cancer patients now. Learning more about cancer and its treatment so that I knew how bad it could be helped a lot (though it gave me nightmares if I read just before bedtime!). I admit it, I was a pessimist and was certain I would be gone within a year or so. I was first diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2002. In 2004 they thought (mistakenly) that I had ovarian cancer. Then I got hit with an unrelated lung cancer dx in 2006. Currently I have some spots on my lungs that the doctor considers too small and too stable to operate on at this time. So I'm playing the waiting game too.

It seems better, though, this time around. I have a treatment plan, I know more about what I'm dealing with now and how it is likely to proceed. I know I don't have forever on this planet, but how long I have and what happens after that is all in God's hands. Daily exercise helps and knowing who to call if I get in a jam helps too. When I can't make myself plan something that seems too far in the future (planning for retirement in 5-10 years or even planning a summer vacation is rough!), I make myself plan for something that week or that day. Accomplishing something as small as cleaning a counter off sometimes is enough to ward off the molasses swamp of depression. Do something you enjoy every day no matter what the doctor has planned in terms of treatment. My trips to the doctor are also my days to eat out, go shopping, or read magazines I never get time for on "normal" days.

So do what you can and find out what works for you to help you through the day. Medication to take the edge off the blues is a good way to go too. Just add it to all of the above ideas to make a plan that works for you. My dad used to say that life is too short to be miserable. So ask for help when you need it.

C. Abbott

PS They discovered my lung cancer after I had bronchitis that just wouldn't respond to antibiotics too. I was sure I had pneumonia and they just weren't treating it correctly. The PET/CAT scan showed I was right about the pneumonia, but the problem was lung cancer, not inferior antibiotics. Go figure!

mamacita5's picture
mamacita5
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2010

I know I am in the right place with this discussion group...bless you for your kind support.

cool49
Posts: 27
Joined: Feb 2010

i know what you mean u have to have hope ,faith and trust in god because he is the one with the plan.i also thought i had brocitise and they give me med.then my doctor want me to have a chest e/ray i had been hurting in my right breast pain unbelive.so when the x ray came back i had all kinds of spots all over both lungs.Then he sent me to a lung doctor i was told i had lung cancer in both lungs their was so many of then i looked at the ct scan.the doctor set me up to have a biopsy i had 4 tumors some in right lung and some in left lung.i was terifiedabout it all.they told me i had basal cell carcinoma that went to my lungs.they told me 9 11 2009 and what it was skin cancer that went to the lungs that never ever happens but mine did.There has only been 300 hundred case in thw world since 1895.theirs know treatment yet so mine is in gods hands and he has a plan for all of us,yes i get scared but i try to be brave because of my family.ive been coughing alot i als have two blood clots and i get tried easy.so keep me in youre prays and if you know anyone that has this type of cancer please let me know thanks for listening may god be with u and youre family always keep the faith we are living with cancer we have already beat the odds now i will be glad when the have a plan for mine.god bless u shirley

stayingcalm's picture
stayingcalm
Posts: 656
Joined: Feb 2007

mamacita5,

It does sound as if you can have the tumor surgically removed, and that's a good thing. It's all scary, whether you are a first-time cancer patient or a second, or third. I think what helps a lot is having support at home, and particularly, someone to go to those first few appointments with you, to be your ears and memory.

Medication is fine, too - I was reluctant, as I think most people are - to admit that I needed something to help for panic attacks, but my pulmonologist prescribed .5mg Xanax and I began by taking 1/4 of that (people laughed at me, but it was all I needed to keep the anxiety away without feeling in any way "weird"). I never took more than half a pill and I don't usually take any these days, as the panic attacks have subsided.

I can't think of anything better than what GlendaN & cabbott and others have suggested, just wanted to put my 2 cents in, and please let us know how it goes. I expect you'll do fine :)

Deb

mamacita5's picture
mamacita5
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2010

Thanks so much for your comments Deb. I find that I need to "hit" the discussion group about 4 times a day to keep my spirits up. Everyone is so kind and understanding to the "newbie" in the group. I will definitely ask my doctor about something to calm my nerves for these first few weeks. Not big into pills either, but I feel it will be better for me to stay as calm as possible.

Laura88
Posts: 47
Joined: Oct 2009

I was diagnosed exactly one year ago. I won't lie, it has been a daunting year, and it hasn't been all good news for me -- but I've gotten through it pretty well. If you take one day at a time, one treatment at a time and yes, Xanax, you will do fine. Do you best to laugh each day and find the good things in life. Keep on this board -- it will truly help you thought. Best wishes and keep in touch. Laura

mamacita5's picture
mamacita5
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2010

I will try to keep a positive outlook. I had a lovely day yesterday with my husband and our children. Hope you have a great week!

barryd2
Posts: 5
Joined: May 2010

I've been a longtime reader of this site, but never really had the urge to join... after reading your initial post, I felt compelled to join just so I could write to you... I'm a 2 1/2 year survivor of Stage III lung cancer... I went through the horrible initial time after I was first diagnosed. I remember that first week, I would shake uncontrollably after I showered. I, like others, took a very small dose of Xanax and it helped immeasurably.

I think my fear lasted until treatments actually began... I had five months of chemo, then surgery to remove the left upper lobe, then two months of radiation and chemo. It was tough... I won't lie.. but it all worked. I have been totally cancer-free for something like two years now... I go in for periodic PET scans, but that's nothing... When you survive cancer, most of life's problems seem like mere inconveniences.

Hang in there!

Barry

mamacita5's picture
mamacita5
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2010

Thank you for your kind reassurance. During these early weeks I find my mood and emotions can change from hour to hour. Reading your post will make my next hour a happy one!

scfranson
Posts: 2
Joined: May 2010

I found out I have lung cancer that has spread to the spine in February. At first I thought I was handling the news ok, I cried a lot and had bad times but I didn't fall apart like I have this past couple weeks. My anxiety has reached out and grabbed me and won't let go. I'm seeing a therapist, had one session so far but that doesn't help much when it's just one session. I'm also taking anti anxiety meds. I'm not even sure what I want to ask here, maybe just has anyone had a delayed reaction like mine to their cancer diagnosis?

Like Mamacita5 my emotions are changing from minute to minute and I sure could use some kind of support from the rest of you also living this nightmare.

Saying you wish you would wake up from this dream and find it all gone is a common thought but I know it's not going to happen. The therapist said she feels I'm accepting my diagnosis but I don't, it feels like grief to me. I probably need more help that you can give me.

I had radiation for pain control and that worked and I'm having chemo which is holding the cancer at bay but not shrinking it, now the doctor is talking about adding tarceva, I know I might have a lot longer life than I first thought after diagnosis but I can't get past this grieving emotional feeling to enjoy it.

If anyone has any suggestions for dealing with this anxiety I sure can use them.
Bless all of you, Claudia

bfp9548
Posts: 28
Joined: Apr 2010

I agree with Deb. For me support has been the key. I have good days and bad days. I am still trying to avoid taking any more medications at this time. Without my friends and family I don't know what I would do. They allow me to vent my frustrations and fears and are just there for me. For me, I try to take it day by day and focus on only the issues that come up that day. Sometime this is hard, but my support team reigns me back into control.

Hang in there!
Kim

Citygirl24
Posts: 2
Joined: May 2010

Hi Claudia.
I'm really sorry about your grieving. Will pray for you. As I've seen mentioned before. Focus on the day by day. If its nice out go for a walk. Enjoy the sunshine. Find a good book to climb into. If you can't take the time to excercise, take a few mins to stretch or walk a round the room. I have 3 kids so yesterday I got on the floor with them and we played games and did puzzles. Or do a puzzle yourself. God Bless

mamacita5's picture
mamacita5
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2010

I don't know if you are religious, but praying has helped me a lot. After praying I make sure to take some time to listen....

I have also found a lot of comfort in reading success stories of others here on the discussion group. You can see there are a lot of people here that have overcome incredible odds to fight and LIVE with their cancer for many years.

Claudia, I will add you to my prayers if you don't mind.
Anita

hartmann's picture
hartmann
Posts: 26
Joined: May 2010

Im so glad that I have found this sight as well. I too have been recently diagnosed with cancer. I was seen by my PA in January for some very minor chest pain (my husband made me go). A chest xray was done although we all thought the pain was stress related. It showed a 2.5cm area in the left lower lobe. I then had a ct scan which showed extensive lymph node involvement under my arms and in the mediastinum as well as several large (6cm) tumors in my liver. I had pet scan, MRI, liver biopsy , multiple blood tests and a port placement with chemotherapy all starting within 2 weeks of my initial appointment. Talk about a nightmare. I went from one of the most fit and healthy people I know and to working 40 to 60 hours to having a death sentence in no time. I had not been to church 10 years but I have a dear friend who helped bring me back to God and I am so grateful for that. I agree that praying help and also having as many supportive people around you as possible. Dont listen to the negative stuff and keep as positve attitude as possible. My prognosis is extremely poor but I did not allow the doctors to give ma a time frame or any numbers. I believe it is up to God when I go. So far Im doing amazingly well and I believe you will as well. Its been 4 months. I have recieved 6 chemo treaments and have no hair but I also have no new symptoms. No cough or shortness of breath or signs of liver failure. I even work a few hours a week (except the week after chemo:). The tumors were shrinking after the 2nd chemo and Im due for another scan in a couple weeks. My doctor is a bit suprised and even hopeful:) You will continue to have good days and bad days. I think this is normal for all of us. Keep in contact on the board. I know it has helped me already to know there are others out there. I will keep you in my prayers. God Bless

mamacita5's picture
mamacita5
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2010

I can tell you are a fighter! Like you, I will not listen to numbers. Only the Lord knows when it is my time to go. I intend to move forward with my life and take on each challenge as it comes. Lets keep in touch, and know that we can be great inspiration for each other! I will be out of commission for awhile after my surgery on Monday, but I will write again as soon as I am able. Have a marvelous weekend!
Anita

hartmann's picture
hartmann
Posts: 26
Joined: May 2010

Best if luck with your surgery. I will say a prayer for you!! Talk to you soon.

Cari05
Posts: 2
Joined: May 2010

I was diagnosed with lung cancer on Wednesday. I had been losing weight with no known cause. Pulminologist did CScan last November and thought the lesion on my lung that I have had for years might be cancerous. He had me have another CScan of my brain, this time, and a petscan. Nothing showed up on either so he sent me to my regular doc and to a stomach doc. My regular doc gave me all sorts of tests and a sonagram. Nothing. I had a colonoscopy and a endoscopy and nothing there. I put off going back to my pulmo because I thought that all was well. When I went back, he suggested testing my thyroid. Nothing. The endochronologist also tested me for diabetes and tested my adrenal gland. Still nothing. He also did another CScan and found the lesion had grown so he did a biopsy, which confirmed the presence of cancer. He had talked to the oncologist he was sending me to and that doctor indicated he would do a combination of radiation and chemo. I have COPD so they cannot do surgery. The lesion is about 1 centimeter and has not spread. The oncologist has given me a 30 to 40% chance of a cure. I am determined to be one of the 30 to 40% who are cured.

Have any of you had to quit smoking because of the cancer? I had quit for 3 1/2 years and then started again a year and a half ago. The way I quit was being hospitalized for 11 days. It seems impossible to quit without that kind of help (not being able to smoke for 11 days). Can any of you identify with this?

congoody
Posts: 74
Joined: Jan 2010

On the day I was diagnosed I just could not even look at a cigarette - believing that tobacco addiction had most likely gotten me into this I just could not continue to smoke - that is not to say that the addiction was easy to break, it was not, but anything I could do to help myself was welcome at a time when I felt so helpless - a recent study from the British Medical Journal confirms that it is never too late - they found 5 year survival rates doubled in early stage lung cancer patients who quit smoking versus those who continued to smoke - I know how difficult it is but you can help your recovery if you quit.

stayingcalm's picture
stayingcalm
Posts: 656
Joined: Feb 2007

I quit because of my COPD - i was getting more and more short of breath and having panic attacks and finally decided I really had to quit. I used the patch, gave up a couple of times, and on my third try I finally managed to quit. In hindsight, I should have had a doctor prescribe me Xanax while I was quitting, because I fell into a black hole of depression - after all, I was saying goodbye to something that had helped me through many trying times, starting when I was about 14. I did manage to climb out, and haven't smoked since.

So, try the patch, and see if your doctor will prescribe something to help you keep your emotional balance if you think you need it. As congoody said, quitting will help you immensely :)

Deb

Cari05
Posts: 2
Joined: May 2010

I have a question about treatment. I will be having chemo and radiation. Will I need someone to take me to treatment and take me home?

mamacita5's picture
mamacita5
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2010

When I met with the oncologist on Monday he advised me to plan to have some assistance with driving to and from my chemo treatments. I will take a chemo class this Saturday that is put on by the chemo nurses, so I am sure they will give me the real picture of what to plan for. I will let you know what I find out. I am sure others will let you know what they have experienced since they will have already gone through it, and we are "newbies". Good luck to you!

hartmann's picture
hartmann
Posts: 26
Joined: May 2010

Hi,

I quit smoking about 8 months prior to being diagnosed. I had smoked for over 20 years. Not sure if chantix can be taken with chemo but that is what worked for me. Also I would have someone drive you to and from chemo at least until you know how it affects you. They give you other drugs (benadryl) that make you kinda goofy. Hope this helps

merpreb
Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 2009

When I had my first lung surgery almost 14 years ago I didn't quit until the week before my surgery with help from the patch. What helped me was that I was so afraid that I couldn't quit that I scared myself into it I think. When I got home after 3 1/2 days int he hospital (right lower lobe removed) I was no longer on the patch and had to keep saying to myself, "If you want to live you can't smoke". And after a while it became easier and easier. But I do know how it feels to want to smoke and can't. After a while you no longer want to smoke.

catcon49's picture
catcon49
Posts: 398
Joined: Aug 2008

What kind of cancer did you have? I would be interested in knowing more. I also had lower right lobe removed.

barryd2
Posts: 5
Joined: May 2010

Hi Cari... I decided to quit smoking the day I was diagnosed with Stage III NSCLC... not that I smoked very much... only three packs a day for 45 years... :) No one thought I'd be able to do it... I used Chantix, and consider it to be a miracle drug... I quit 2 1/2 years ago and haven't had even one puff since then. I don't know what's more amazing... beating cancer or quitting smoking... both are pretty good! I was able to tolerate chemo while using Chantix just fine... All my doctors said that if I quit smoking, I had a much better chance of beating cancer... I don't know if they were right or not, but beat it I did...

By the way, I, too, had COPD, and was able to have surgery after my tumor had shrunk considerably from chemo... I had a lobectomy (one lobe removed), and recovered pretty well... Why is your doctor saying that with COPD you can't have surgery? I bet the doctor who said that wasn't a surgeon... I strongly recommend you have a consult with non-cardiac thoracic surgeon and see what he says...

Best of luck...

Barry

stayingcalm's picture
stayingcalm
Posts: 656
Joined: Feb 2007

Barry, it all depends on the severity of the COPD and how badly the lungs are scarred. I, too was unable to have surgery, and it was a top thoracic surgeon who made that determination after taking a look inside. I was all prepared to wake up missing a lobe or two and was surprised to find I wasn't! I have extensive scarring from pneumonia, which was the biggest reason, and my lungs have several "blebs" (the real word, believe it or not), and thin spots, that make surgery too risky.

seriouslythanks
Posts: 1
Joined: May 2010

Thank you all for your posts. Although I do not have lung cancer myself (and cancer does not run in my family) I have been a smoker for about 12 years now off-and-on. I am now 30 years old and I am thinking about someday having kids. I decided to quit smoking and today is my "quit day". I came to this website in hopes of giving myself tons of reasons to quit (horror stories). Instead, I found some of the most interesting and upbeat people I've met in a long time. I am sure you all have your private sorrows that you might not even share here but, each of you is incredibly inspiring and I wish you all nothing but the best. Thank you.

PBJ Austin
Posts: 347
Joined: Mar 2009

I hadn't thought of this until I read your post but today is the 39th anniversary of my dad's Quit Day. It was June 1, 1971 when my dad decided once and for all he would quit. He smoked his last cigarette and never looked back. It was one of the hardest things he ever did but he was so glad, as well as the rest of the family. Good luck in your efforts to quit, you can do this!!

joyzee's picture
joyzee
Posts: 33
Joined: Oct 2009

Thanks. Good luck on ur quit. eventhough i ended up with lung cancer, it is still a struggle 2 stay quit, 1 yr later.

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