Lung Cancer … What????

Oh man!! Does anyone expect to get a diagnosis like lung cancer … or any kind of cancer, for that matter? I don’t really think so.

Lung cancer has been in my life for a long time. The first time I really remember hearing about it in a personal way was when my favorite great uncle was diagnosed. I remember going to visit him at the VA Hospital in Dallas all of those many years ago. I was so heartbroken. Even though I was just a kid, I had heard that people don’t live with lung cancer. He didn’t.

Next, when I was a very young adult and a new mom, my 48-year-old dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. What??? I thought lung cancer happened to the elderly.

My dad didn’t have any symptoms: no coughing or wheezing. Actually, he did have a symptom. We just didn’t know it was a symptom. His right knee had begun bothering him a month or two earlier. He had just made a long road trip from Dallas to Washington, DC so everyone, including doctors, chalked it up to that. As it turned out, his cancer had metastasized to the bone in his knee. No wonder chiropractic and other measures didn’t help ease the pain.

My dad’s doctors said he would live six months. And, that’s exactly how long he lived. He worked until three weeks before he died. Even the day he died, his office was calling with questions that he was able to answer. I gained a lot of respect for him by watching him fight his disease.

My turn

I was as active and as happy as I’d ever been in my life when it was my turn to hear those words, “You have lung cancer.” What?????? The world stops. Surely, I misunderstood, there had to be a mistake. I felt great. I had no symptoms. None. Well, except a tiny little knot that had come up just a short time before my diagnosis.

God has watched over me all of my life. It has to have been He that made me finally, after 10 years, go to the doctor in October 2012. Not because I had any known symptom of lung cancer, but because I was gaining weight that I just couldn’t diet away. I thought I had thyroid issues, something that I could easily remedy with a little pill.

We did blood tests and because my new primary care doctor felt that tiny little knot on my collarbone, I was sent for a CT scan. As they say, the rest is history.

I didn’t have thyroid issues. I still don’t know why I kept putting on weight (which unfortunately continued even after my diagnosis). But, as much as I hate the added weight I lug around, I owe my life to it. I would never have gone to the doctor had it not been for thinking I needed prescription pills to get rid of it.

Yeah. No thyroid issues. Something worse. Far worse. Lung cancer.

4 Months

My first oncologist thought that my lung cancer was so advanced that I would only live another four months. I sometimes question why he thought that because when I was diagnosed, the cancer was in both lungs and in my lymph node on my collarbone, but thankfully it hadn’t invaded any organs, my brain or my bones. Praise God, l still don’t have cancer anywhere except in my lungs (we radiated away the lymph node tumor).

Stunned though we were, my husband and I decided from the very first day that we were going to continue living our lives as normally as possible for as long as possible. We were going to tell our family that, while yes, I had been diagnosed with lung cancer, it was going to be okay.

We didn’t know that we were telling the truth!

It is now April 2018. And, it is still okay!! So far, I’ve beat my initial prognosis by over five years.

Why Me?

You know, I have lost so many friends to this awful disease. They were mostly younger and smarter. They were mostly never-smokers. And I always have to ask, “Why them and not me?”

I really do wish I knew the answer to that question. But I don’t and never will (unless God tells me when I get to Heaven). So, I try to live my life as well and as completely as I possibly can. Every single day. I try to constantly look on the bright side of life because I have been given a gift denied to many – life itself. And, I try to always, always, always tell people – anyone who will listen –

It only takes lungs to get lung cancer.

Don’t ignore any symptoms and don’t let your doctor ignore them either just because you are young and/or never smoked.

If you are ever unfortunate enough to get a lung cancer diagnosis, ask your oncologist right away to do testing for genetic mutations.

Don’t give up Hope!!




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