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Pat P., MS

My dad died from lung cancer in January 2003. He was diagnosed less than 30 days earlier. He had been exposed to radiation at his job. Fast forward to 2011 when I had a recurrent sore throat and went to my ENT. He suggested a CT scan of my neck which includes part of your lungs. When the results came back I was told there was nothing wrong with my throat, but there was a lesion at the apex of my left lung. It was very small. A bronchoscopy was unsuccessful at obtaining a biopsy because they were unable to reach the lesion with the scope. I went on a watch and wait protocol with serial follow up CT scans until finally almost a year and multiple CT'S and 2 PET scans later the lesion showed changes. It was at that time I had a CT guided needle biopsy and I was told I had bronchioalveolar adenocarcinoma. I was scheduled for surgery on March 27, 2012, where my left upper lobe was removed. Thankfully 17 out of 17 lymph nodes were negative for cancer, but were black. I did not smoke. I recovered from surgery with the help of very gifted and kind medical staff and went home with oxygen, but only at night and only for a week. I have been followed by the most wonderful doctors to include my thoracic surgeon, pulmonologist, ENT (I also have thyroid nodules), oncologist and primary care. Right now I am considered to be in remission. I was one of the lucky ones who was accidentally diagnosed early and I have a good chance of 5 year (or more) survival! I will say that I did have symptoms of difficulty breathing, especially at work. I worked in a building that had suffered severe water damage during Katrina and previous to our group moving into the building it had officially been condemned for asbestos and black mold. It was painted and carpeted and called "fixed" and we were moved into the building. Several people suffered various health issues following our occupancy and some were moved out of the building. Some of us were made to stay and one person died from lung disease and I was diagnosed with cancer. The entire time we were in the building I complained that I couldn't breathe when I was inside the building, but it fell on deaf ears. I was diagnosed with emphysema, asthma and COPD. I did not smoke. My point is, please don't ignore your body. If you can't breathe in a certain environment, do everything you can to avoid that environment. Fight for your lungs. Live a long life!

First Published: October 29, 2013

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