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My experience with lung cancer

Geetarman
Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 2016

I do not know if this is the proper place for this but I am sure someone willadvise me if it is not. I started smoking when i was in college and continued through the military. I got married in 1969 and quit one year before that. So it has been a while since I smoked. However, I did work in aerospace with different kinds of airfoills made of carbon fiber and different resins that were used to cure the product so I did have a lot of exposure to things that were not good for me.  A routine chest xray indicated a "spiculated nodule with a pleural tag" on my left lung in early 2014 and a notation was made on my records to have it followed up. In February of 2015, I went for an appointment with my cardiologist for a routine follow up  on the atrial fibrillation that I have been taking medicine for control. I have had that for about 10 years. I am 73 and retired 9n 2008. The doctor noticed the notation on my records and asked what the outcome was. I told him nothing had been done and it had not been a big thing with my primary care doctor. Perhaps my PCP missed it. Anyway, my PCP called me and scheduled a visit with a pulmonary doctor and he then scheduled a chest xray and that was followed with a CT scan and that was followed with a PET scan. My PCP then arranged for a biopsy and sure enough, I was diagnosed with non small cell adenocarcinoma of left lung stage 2 with one lymph node involved. The left lung was the primary site and no other spots were detected. I was referred to a very good oncologist who said I was a good candidate for surgery and most likely would not need chemo or radiation. He referred me to a thoracic surgeon who just happened to be chief of surgery at the hospital I wanted to use.

 

The doctor looked at all the reports and said flat out that without treatment, what I had would kill me. He said he could offer me a surgery that would remove the upper lobe of my left lung and the one lymph node. As he put it: "Door one has about a 5 % mortality on the table and door number 2 is 100 %." I picked door one.

 

I had the surgery on June 12, 2015.  The surgery went well. The pain was pretty bad after and you are taking so many drugs, it is difficult to know whether it is day or night.   The pain was a lot worse than I thought it would be.  Percocet became my friend. The surgeon said he thought he was able to remove the cancer and the lymph node and that the margins were clear. I went back to the oncologist about 6 weeks after the surgery and started the first of 4 rounds of chemo.  Cisplatin, Alimta and Neulasta. I did 2 days of chemo every three weeks for 4 rounds.

 

It was miserable. I could not eat but I was hungry. My stomach was upset and could not have BMs without a stool softener. The medications for treating nausea are actually pretty good and one in particular ( Ondansetron ) is VERY effective. I would get the hiccups from the Neulasta but there is a medicine for that. It actually works pretty well. So. . .after all of this, I am off all the chemo and the pre-chemo meds and just had a CT scan, labs and follow up with the oncologist. Everything looks good at this point and will have another appointment in late May.  This will probably be fairly routine for the rest of my life. I am still on a little percocet for pain but won't need anything else unless something shows up.

 

My wife and I are both active in our church and God is VERY important in our lives. There is nothing that will really prepare you for a diagnosis like I had and I do not know how we would have gotten through this with out God. I know everyone has their own belief system and I do not want to persuade any of you one way or the other.  I don't know if my experience has been typical or not . I just wanted to share with all of you what it has been for me. My brother is two years younger than me and he has been smoking since he was a teenager. My Dad smoked a lot. He died at 71. My grandfather on my Dad's side ( non smoker ) died at 65 and my grandfather on my Mom's side died at 71 ( smoker ). I have actually outlived them all. I know this may sound weird, but for me, cancer has been more of a blessing than a curse. I have learned that the God of the mountain top is the God of the valley. There WERE times I wanted to end it all and just cash in my chips and let the dust settle where ever the dust would settle. Very good friends encouraged me to hang on a little longer. They told me things would get better. They were right. The only big downside for me was the extensive loss of hearing in both ears from the chemo. As a result, I have aids in both ears. I sometimes play guitar and bass in a church band and the hearing loss is a real issue for guitar. Not so much for bass.

That is pretty much my story. If there is anything I can do to help any of you, I can be reached at hilton_roberts@yahoo.com. I check that addy frequently and I will respond fairly quickly. I wish for good outcomes for all of you who have been diagnosed. It is not a pleasant time but it is manageable when you have good doctors and nurses. I have met some really great people on this journey who have helped me a lot. My hope is that I can helpsome of you. God bless you all and those who are dear to you.

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