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Catherine S., SC

I am a never smoker who was diagnosed with Mucinous Adenocarcinoma of my left lung in May of 2020. I have had asthma for over 25 years at this point and thought the symptoms I was experiencing was just my asthma acting up. For over six months I had been having episodes of my chest tightening, heart racing, feeling panicked, it would last for 10-20 minutes.

It finally got so scary that I thought I was having a heart attack. I went to my doctor and he did an EKG and a chest X-ray. They both came back fine; he then sent me to a cardiologist. He did another EKG and a heart cath. Both were fine.

The doctor then sent me to a critical care pulmonologist. He did so many PFT and labs. He was telling me the results of all the test and was about to walk out the door after saying he thinks my asthma is flaring up causing these issues.

As he is walking out the door, he said, let’s do one more test, a chest CT. It came back with an area in the bottom of my left lung. He said it didn't show on X-ray because it was behind my heart. He put me on strong antibiotics and said we would repeat it in three months, it could be infection, fungus or scar tissue.

It was so hard waiting to do the CT. To add to the drama, the COVID-19 pandemic was just getting started at this point. The CT showed the area was still there. I wanted it out, ASAP. The surgeon appointment was so surreal, my husband had to wait outside and be there via FaceTime because of COVID-19, so really difficult to be in there alone talking about the possibility of it being cancer.

We asked him to be aggressive in gaining clear margins, to take more than usual if it was cancer. It was stage 1, mucinous adenocarcinoma in the "gutter" of my left lung. I don't remember being told that in recovery, they said I cried. My husband was told the results and then was supposed to leave because of covid protocols. He begged them to allow him to see me and be with me when I became aware that I have cancer. They allowed him to come back for 30 minutes. It was extremely difficult to be told I had lung cancer, so unbelievable. I was so grateful that he was able to be there for me, it was tough.

I didn't need chemo or radiation, just every three-month oncology appointments and CTs every six months. I was recovering from lung cancer surgery, working from home as a medical practice manager.

Due to the pandemic, my oncologist didn't want me back in a medical office yet. I was high risk, had half a lung and they really didn't want me to deal with getting COVID.

My employer of eight years said he was going to have to cut my pay because I couldn't come into the office to work. I quit. I didn't have the emotional strength at that time to deal with his vile behavior. I am at 29 months being cancer free. It has been a life changing couple of years. I have high hopes that I never face that enemy again. Lung cancer treatment has come a long way but has even further to go. I hope to see lung cancer lose its number one killer status. 

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