I thought I had a 4am allergy cough, my husband thought I had pneumonia. I requested a chest X-ray. The radiologist saw a solitary pulmonary nodule, a mass really, with satellites. The size of a coconut. The next step was a CT scan, for more definition, then a PET scan, finally an endoscopy to locate the most active area.
The process for screening was easy and I was comforted knowing that I was being thoroughly checked. The cancer was staged as 2N, but, they weren't sure. The lymph nodes would be checked at the time of surgery. I also underwent an MRI to make certain the cancer had not spread to my brain. All of this was done in under 6 weeks.
The doctors were surprised I had no signs of the cancer, but everything they questioned I could attribute to menopause. Cancer mirrors other illnesses. Things like night sweats, fatigue, etc. I underwent surgery, the lymph nodes were tested, they were clear. I then underwent chemo followed by radiation. That was a 6 month process.
The tumor was up against my chest wall so these were measures to try to keep it from coming back. I got inflamed lungs after radiation and had a CT scan to rule out a blood clot . This was in 2012. Since then, I underwent two CT scans and two chest xray per year, looking for reoccurrence. None was found. After 5 years, I receive one CT scan per year, up to 16 years out.
Now in 2019, I am cancer free and forever grateful for the procedures used to define my cancer. I never feared about over use of the CT scan during this process, it serves an important purpose. I chose life and trusted my doctors.
I quit smoking 3 years prior to my cancer diagnosis and felt no surprise at the chest x-ray results. I am delighted to be a lung cancer survivor and think that CT scans should be available to diagnose early stages of this evil disease. My original diagnosis of making it five years without reoccurrence was 25% from the surgeon, 65% from my pulmonologist. I am proud to be a survivor and try to celebrate life everyday! It's a rough road but one well worth traveling.
First published: November 11, 2019