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Cristina C., RI

I am a lung cancer survivor!

I had been experiencing an occasional but annoying cough for a few months which I kept putting off as "post nasal drip." I had my yearly physical scheduled for November 2017, at which time I mentioned this cough to my RNP and she decided that it would be best for me to have a chest X-ray to rule out anything major.

I had the X-ray done the same day...few days later I received a call that there was an opacity on my right lung and a repeat chest X-ray or cat scan was recommended. I had a repeat X-ray done the same day and this one was also abnormal, which then lead to a chest CAT scan. When I received the results that there were three nodules on my lung, one suspicious for malignancy and the other two benign, I was shocked and devastated.

I was then referred to a Cardio-thoracic surgeon, who was concerned and recommended a Pet Scan, which was completed the following week after which I had a follow up appointment with him two days later. All the various scenarios were provided and the good news was that two nodules had disappeared, but the one suspicious for malignancy was still haunting me.

I didn't have an actual cancer diagnosis at this time, but the best course of action would be to schedule lung surgery since a biopsy could be inconclusive due to the small size of the nodule. Having a 2-year-old and 4-year-old, my husband and I decided to wait until after the Christmas holiday to have the surgery. The surgery was scheduled for January 10, 2018, and was scheduled as a wedge resection with the understanding that the nodule would be tested during surgery and if was shown to be cancerous the surgeon would complete a right lower lobectomy and lymph node resection.

Our worst fear came true, I woke up in the recovery room and my husband told me it was indeed cancer. We tried to stay optimistic as we waited 13 long days for the pathology report. On January 23 we received the diagnosis - adenocarcinoma - stage 1 lung cancer. The nodule/tumor was completely removed and the lymph nodes were benign and the surgeon didn't think I would need additional treatment! Amazing news! Next step was meet with an oncologist and discuss findings, who reiterated that the whole nodule was removed and that lymph nodes were not malignant. I would not benefit from any additional treatment due to the small size of the nodule/tumor. Monitoring for the next five years is the recommendation.

The one question I am asked frequently is, "Are you a smoker?" And the answer is "I have never been a smoker." One does not have to be a smoker or have a history of smoking to get lung cancer, which happened to be my case.

I am extremely thankful that my cancer was detected in the early stages and that everyone was proactive especially my husband who kept "nagging" me about the cough. Again I am a lung cancer survivor and look forward to spending many more years with my family and friends.

First Published: April 12, 2018

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