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Brian H.

I started smoking when I was a child. By the time I was 35 years old and in the military, I had COPD, Asthma and Heart Disease. I was very sick. The military medically retired me. But I kept smoking and got sicker.

By 2005, I could no longer work. I was on oxygen full time and my heart was failing. I struggled for years to stay alive. Finally, in 2012 I received a heart transplant. But my lungs were very sick. Though my new heart was doing well, my lungs were getting worse.

In the summer of 2016 doctors noticed a large spot on my right lung. After many tests and biopsies, they determined I had squamous cell lung cancer in my right lower lobe. They thought removal of my right lower lung would fix me. They took that part of my lung out in January 2017.

Remaining lungs still have COPD, asthma and emphysema. Despite healing well, I have difficulty adjusting to the reduced lung volume. Even now, in January 2020, I have difficulty completing routine household chores. Things like taking the trash out, moping a floor or sweeping makes me pant and feel out of breath. Now, doctors are tracking another spot. If it turns out to be cancer, I don't know how I can survive on less lung capacity.

First published: January 7, 2020

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