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Sandy H.

Hi... Last year beginning of June 2018 on a hot summer day around 3 p.m I started not to feel well, like flu symptoms. I took a hot shower and I felt very cold. I got dressed like it was winter time. I still couldn't get warm, cover myself with three blankets. My boys were playing outside with the water hose, they came in and were like mom was wrong. As the night went on and I went to bed... The next day I still didn't feel well... My friend and I went for a walk and I told her I'm not feeling to well and can't walk fast, I can't breathe at that point now I'm thinking is something wrong with my heart... So the third day of this sickness I ran a temperature of a 101.1 with bad chills. I'm back on the couch with my blankets. I took Tylenol for the fever, then middle of the night I broke into sweats. Now, going on the third day still the same now I'm coughing and can't breathe. I knew something was wrong, I never get high temperatures and chills then sweats. I had a hard time walking short distances... Meaning to my couch to the bathroom or to the kitchen. My chest hurt and felt very weak. I was so scared and thought I was going to die. Never felt like this before... The next day I went to the urgent Care they listened to my chest and told me I have bronchitis and gave me antibiotics for 10 days. I went home that night my temperature was 104.1 and became very weak. I couldn't breathe, now I'm scared to death... I told my husband to take me to the ER. They ran all kinds of tests. Bloodwork, EKG, x-rays on my chest, they inserted IV in me, and kept checking my oxygen level... Being there for three hours, doctors came in with my results. He said I have a pneumonia on my right lower lobe and he said follow up with your family doctor to make sure it's not cancer.... Ohh wait doctor "did you say Cancer"?!?! He said yes, and said I'm not saying you have cancer I say that to all my pneumonia patients for protocols... As I was leaving the hospital and kept thinking of what the doctor told me, and kept thinking that I may have cancer and this doctor seen something on the X-rays...This didn't set well in my head.

I made sure the following week I followed up with my doctor, she listened to my chest and says I still have the pnenomia... She wants to do another x-ray one week later, at this time I'm done with my antibiotics. I did the X-ray on my chest... Still fluid in my chest, and said then why it takes time to clear less wait another month to do another x-ray.... So now we are middle of July, go back for another x-ray. Now the pneumonia is cleared but there was still something suspicious now they want you further investigation, I had to do CT scan that was beginning of August.

One hour after my CT scan the office calls me. My heart dropped in my stomach I begin to panic and extremely scared, I knew something was wrong... I answered and told my I have a thickening in my air way and not sure if it is mucus blockage or a mass.. I said did you say mass and told the lady I'm very scared, she said that's why we are referring you to a pulmonary doctor. I had to wait 2 weeks till I seen him. The longest 2 weeks of my life... I was worried of what news is coming my way.... Cried everyday thinking what is going to happen... As I was waiting for my appointment, I said to myself I can't keep crying and think the worse. Whatever it is, I'm going to hit this journey and beat it. I will fight hard! I won't give up. I had to change my attitude... Being depressed didn't do me any good... I had to stay strong for my family!

Two weeks finally arrived, met with my pulmonary doctor he said my 2 x-rays shows the pneumonia is clearing up and he feels like it's only a blockage mucus, he did say if,if,if it's something he said it's benign. Carcinoid tumors are very slow growth like a snail..He wanted to wait to due another CT scan another month. When I left there I said to myself pictures are no justifying, unless they go inside my lungs and see what it is... I try to stay positive, but it was hard because I want to know what's going on. I stayed top of everything... So now we are going into October doing another CT scans. My pulmonary doctor calls me that night with results... He said he wants me to do bronchoscopy and he felt like it's only mucus blockage and had just going to clean all that junk up and again if it's a tumor it's benign..

I had the procedure the second week of November. I was sedated ,it took half hour and I was done... He said unfortunately it wasn't mucus blockage and seen something suspicious and he scraped around it for pathology... Few days later my pulmonary doctor called me and said I need to do another bronchoscopy. I did that one week after Thanksgiving. I had to be put to sleep because now they want to go deeper in my air ways. It showed I have carcinoid tumor on my two airways, right side of my Lungs... I kept hearing benign tumor then I heard the word cancer. They weren't giving me straight answers. They told me I need to see a surgeon because I need to have this removed.

On December 3rd I met with surgeon... he says he is taking 50-60 percent of my right lung my middle and right lower lung (Biloectomy) and having VATS surgery. I asked him if it was benign. He looked right at me and said I'm classified as lung cancer... My heart dropped I held to my chest and said what? Cancer? My tears were flowing as I was rambling saying: how? I never smoked a day in my life, never did drugs, I waited 10 years to be a mom, I can't die... My boys need me and I need them.... I'm young to have this ... etc..... Then I asked how did I get this? He said it's just your bad luck.. I asked him if it genetics? He said no... I said to him my pulmonary doctor told me it's benign he said it's behaving like a benign but it's cancer. Carcinoid tumors are very slow growth.. we set up to have surgery on December 13,2018. I lost 60 percent of my lungs. The tumor was 1.3 centimeter small as a pea. They had to take that much because the tumor was sitting on my 2 airways. I had 2 chest tubes. One got removed the day before in left the hospital the other had to stay longer and went home with. I had to stay in the hospital for 5 days. They made me walk around the hallway so I won't get blood clot on my feet.. as I walk around look in each room to find someone my age (44) did not happen. I never met anyone my age that went through this.

I was extremely depressed, thinking I'm young to go through this... They all told me they see more and more with women in their 40's with lung cancer... My lymph nodes was clear. It was A typical carcinoid tumor. I didn't need any chemo or radiation. After the surgery and recovering I really felt winded and easily tired. I went to see my pulmonary doctor to do my breathing volume test. It came back low and suggested that I need to do therapy and of course I cried more and thinking of my quality of life. I started in Feb my rehabilitation therapy. I was surrounded with people older than me AGAIN I still didn't meet anyone my age. I had to do therapy for 12 weeks. My therapist is my age. I told her my story, she was amazed and how one day I'll write my story. She has inspired me and lift my spirits up. She is very caring and always there to help me and listen. I did physical workouts and used some weights. Our lungs have sponges, to help us breathe better and make our lungs strong is strengthen our muscles. I learned alot about lungs through my therapy sessions.

I want to share my story and insipre someone. No one deserves this awful disease and no one should get it. I ALWAYS say listen to your body, if you feel sick or different go to the doctor. I knew something was wrong with me, I told my husband I don't feel good, this is different sickness, I do get bronchitis once or twice a year but nothing like the experience that I had back in June. You are first advocate to your body. Never ignore signs. If the ER doctor never told me to make sure you follow up with your doctor to make sure it's not cancer, I don't know what would happen. I ask many questions (what if) all I know I listened to my body and went to the ER and kept up with all my appointments. After all of this I told my husband I want to go on vacation and do lung force walk. I achieve those two goals. I will be volunteering at lung force to talk about story and inspire someone and hope I can meet someone my age that went through the same.

Stay STRONG 💪 just breathe

Sandy H.

First published: September 19, 2019

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