LUNG FORCE Heroes
I have been aware of lung cancer for a long time. My mother died of lung cancer in 1997 and my cousin died in 2007. Then in February, 2009 I was diagnosed with lung cancer. Since then, another cousin died in 2016. There have been four of us, but I am the only one who has lived beyond a year. So why is my story different? Because my cancer was found very early. It was a small nodule and it had not spread at all. In March, 2009 I had surgery and now I am fine.
Why was I different? It was luck. And because of luck, I have survived. But that is all I had. I had no symptoms to warn me to get treatment. There was no standard early detection test that I could have taken to find the problem. I had bronchitis and my doctor cured the bronchitis and then did a CT scan to verify that it was all gone. The CT scan showed everything was clear except for an unexpected small spot on the lung. After a few tests, I learned that it was cancer. He told me to get it taken out and then get on with my life. And that’s what I did.
I am grateful for the luck I had in an early diagnosis and a thorough and conscientious doctor. But it was just luck. We didn't have mammograms or colonoscopies or even PSA tests. There was nothing we could purposefully do to be diligent. Well we need a little more than luck. We need some hard science behind us. If we can diagnose lung cancer early, we can save thousands of lives that will otherwise be lost because cancer will not be discovered until it is too late.
We now know that CT scans can detect early stage lung cancer. Anyone who qualifies for a scan should absolutely get one. I was saved by a scan and many others can be too. But if you don't qualify but are concerned, talk to your doctor about it. Anyone can get lung cancer. My family members had different symptoms, but they were diagnosed too late. I was the lucky one and I will speak for them.
First published: January 26, 2018
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Hero stories are the point of view of the Hero and not necessarily the American Lung Association. The Lung Association does not endorse any specific provider, facility or treatment.