Reflections of a Cancer Journey

Getting a Cat Scan

Cat Scans have been a big part of my lung cancer journey.
Cat Scans have been a big part of my lung cancer journey.

How the cancer journey began...

Changing Fields

I took a job at a marketing firm in 2000, after feeling burned out from years in the mental health field. I felt it was time to start thinking about me instead of everyone else. I found the marketing field to be considerably less stressful than my last job as a Case Manager. I'd been working at a Social Services agency with women in recovery. It was one of the most challenging positions I ever had in the field. Don't get me wrong; I was passionate about working with women as they worked to put their lives back together, but to say it was stressful, is an understatement.


Ignoring the Signs

As I look back at those days as a Marketing Specialist, I now realize I was having symptoms warning me something wasn't right. I was tired more than usual, wheezing, and doing a lot of coughing and hacking. Since I grew up with parents that were heavy smokers, I easily dismissed the coughing. I'd always had a consistent cough, so this particular symptom wasn't anything new. Family members however, thought the cough was more frequent and different in nature. It was more of a unproductive cough than they'd heard in the past. Still, I shrugged it off and lived my life.

Extremely High Anxiety

Extremely high anxiety is finally what got me into the doctor. I've had anxiety issues throughout my life, but this was a whole new level of 'tweaked'. There were days I couldn't even sit down, and paced around the house like a caged animal. I ended up in the emergency room a couple of times, but the third time was a charm.

Third Trip to E.R.

I was home watching television when excruciating anxiety reared it's ugly head. I paced around the house and ruminated about what was going on with me. I eventually worked myself up so much, I was sure I was having a heart attack. I called my sister and asked if she'd bring me to the hospital. The puzzle finally came together on this third trip to E.R.

Solving the Puzzle

I arrived at E.R. and confidently announced to the medical professionals, "I'm having a heart attack." After my proclamation, they proceeded to give me an x-ray and electrocardiogram- aka, EKG. After finishing the medical procedures, the doctor came in to give me results. She said my heart looked great, but the x-ray revealed a spot on my right lung. She asked me if I was a smoker. I explained that I'd never been a smoker, but my parents were heavy smokers when I was growing up. I also mentioned, I was around a lot of smoke throughout my college years. I worked in restaurants and bars to help finance my undergraduate and graduate studies.

Follow-Up with my Primary Physician

It was a blessing I listened to my body that night. Although the nurse in E.R. wasn't overly concerned about the spot, she told me to follow up with my primary doctor. Next, my primary gave me a referral for a cat scan, which then lead to a biopsy, and eventually, the diagnosis of lung cancer.

The Beginning of a Long Cancer Journey

In February 2004, I was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. Initially they believed I was stage 1-A, which is the best you can ask for with a cancer diagnosis. After surgery to remove the middle lobe of my right lung, the pathology report revealed the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes. Instead of being stage 1, I was now told I had stage 3.

Prognosis

I was told I had a 20-25% chance of making five years. The news was terrifying and felt incredibly surreal. They even sent the hospital chaplain to my room to pray with me. I saw my life flash before me, like I was watching a movie.

There is Always Hope

Why am I sharing a story about my lung cancer journey? The answer is simple. I want to give others hope. Not just cancer survivors-anyone suffering with a with a mental or physical illness who feels it's the end of their world. I was told I'd be lucky if I made five years; yet here I am, cancer free, eleven years later this St. Patrick's Day.

Great News about Cat Scan

The cat scan I received last year, revealed two small spots on the same lung that had cancer in 2004. I'm happy to announce, not only are the spots gone, I was given great news I have long waited for. My oncologist said I've graduated to yearly scans for sheer maintenance. They are no longer concerned the lung cancer will return. I can't adequately express the pure joy and relief I felt, hearing this announcement. I am truly blessed; I am a miracle.

"There, by the grace of God, Go I."

Happy after Finishing the Scan

Such Great News

What a Wonderful World

Hope

Have you ever felt Hopeless

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© 2015 Linda Rogers

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26 comments

Healing Touch profile image

Healing Touch 22 months ago from Minnetonka, MN

Dearest Twin Sister-What a journey we have traveled. I was so scared I would lose my dearest friend, but God knew I needed you. You have been such a big part of raising my two children and I hoped he'd spare you. You are there second mother, and I couldn't have done it without you. I would truly be lost without you, though I didn't always let you know how scared I was, as I wanted to act strong. I cried so many times in hiding; wondering how I would live my life without my best friend and soul mate. My children and I were blessed when you moved in with us in 2004. Although it was a scary time, my kids were so excited that Auntie Mama was moving in with them. Thank you Lord Jesus for healing my sister. I would be so lost without you. I can't express the joy I felt when we were told you were free and clear, and they are no longer worried about the cancer coming back. You and I have had many sleepless nights after scary cat scans. I love you soooooo much! your bestie, your roommate and wombmate. LOL


billybuc profile image

billybuc 22 months ago from Olympia, WA

I think it's safe to say that those of us who are lucky enough to know you are celebrating with you right now. Fantastic news, and thank you for sharing your story so that others realize they are not alone in their struggle.

Blessings always

bill


Miran Shuleta 22 months ago

What an incredible journey, thank you for sharing this personal story.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 22 months ago from Central Florida

Linda, this is such wonderful news! You beat the odds. I love the note on your cat scan results. That's worth framing!

Congratulations!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 22 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Great News, Linda! I too am a cancer survivor (diagnosed with a very aggressive type of prostate cancer in 1996) and 19 years later, I'm still kicking!

I'd say you are probably out of the woods on this, but keep tabs on it.

Good to hear from you again.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 22 months ago from Southern Illinois

Linda, I'm so happy for you. Sharing your story will certainly help others who are going through this journey. I think secondhand smoke is almost as bad as smoking. I have a friend who was just diagnosed with lung cancer, she never smoked but her husband was a 5 pack a day smoker. Blessings my friend.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 22 months ago from Minnesota Author

Hi sis-Yes, we have had some really scary times during the cancer journey. I thank God I had you and your kids to give me hope and purpose. I feel so blessed to be part of raising your children. What a great appointment and announcement at my last scan. I Love you sisser's.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 22 months ago from Minnesota Author

Hi Billy-thank you my friend for the sweet comment. I thank you for celebrating the good news with me. I am riding high after hearing this wonderful announcement. Blessings :)


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 22 months ago from Minnesota Author

Miran-thank you so much for coming by and reading my story. I am so blessed beyond words.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 22 months ago from Minnesota Author

Hi Shauna-I just love the idea of framing my test results. Thanks so much for coming by and celebrating the good news with me. I am so incredibly blessed. Have a great week my friend.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 22 months ago from California

You are indeed a blessing. Cancer is not the fearful thing it once was. Hip, Hip Hooray! Doing a happy dance with you.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 22 months ago from Minnesota Author

Hi Will-it's so nice to see you here. I can't believe your 19 years cancer free with the aggressive type of cancer you had. Way to go my friend! Don't worry, I'll still go back once a year to keep an eye on things. I hope things are going well for you these days. Love having you come by and celebrate with me. It means a lot to me :)


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 22 months ago from Minnesota Author

Hi Ruby-it's so nice to see your smiling face on my hub. Thanks for the kind words on my cat scan. I am so sad to hear about your friend-I agree, that second hand smoke is just as bad. Many cancer patients in my support group are non-smokers too. Like me, they were around smoke in some capacity. You let your friend know that there is always hope and to take one day at a time. Blessings my friend.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 22 months ago from Minnesota Author

Aww, thanks tirelesstraveler for celebrating with me. I am doing the happy dance with you :) I know you can very much relate to my cancer journey and have had your own share of struggles with it. It definitely is not the death sentence it use to be. Sending blessings your way :)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 22 months ago from United States

I am so glad to know you are cancer free. I know it was terrifying in the beginning, but thank goodness it was found early. I had two friend where that was not the case, and it is hearbreaking. You need to celebrate, a lot!!! Obviously it was not your time, so live each day to the fullest. God Bless.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 22 months ago from Minnesota Author

Aww, thank you so much Pamela. I am celebrating a lot! I am really sorry to hear about your friends that didn't find out soon enough. I know my anxiety is what saved my life. I will definitely continue to live each day to the fullest. Bless you Pamela for coming by celebrating with me. It means a lot to me.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 22 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

I am so glad that things are going well for you, Linda. Your story is very inspiring and the news is wonderful! Best wishes for the future.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 22 months ago from Minnesota Author

Thanks so much Alicia- I really appreciate your well wishes. I am one blessed woman.


catgypsy profile image

catgypsy 22 months ago from the South

I am so happy to hear you are well. I know how much hell you've been through with this and how hard it was. Your hubs have been truly brave and inspiring. Much love to you.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 22 months ago from Minnesota Author

Thanks so much Catgypsy-It can be a long scary road when your diagnosed with any type of cancer. Even after treatment and being told your clear, we all know it can come back. I will still go in for yearly scans to make sure all is well, but getting this announcement from my Oncologist gave me such joy and relief. Hope all is well my friend :)


Sandra Eastman profile image

Sandra Eastman 22 months ago from Robbinsdale MN

Praise God you are ok. Both my dad and brother smoked at age 13 until 65 and both died of lung cancer. I have a dear friend who was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer 21 years ago and never even treated with conventional medicine. She's still here. Who knew? Only God, Bless you for giving others hope.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 22 months ago from Minnesota Author

Hi Sandra-how very sad you lost both your dad and brother to lung cancer. Whether your a smoker or not, lung cancer is a terrible disease. I do hope that young kids these days heed the warnings of smoking and second hand smoke. Both are dangerous for the body. Bless you for celebrating my great news.


thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 15 months ago from India

Just wonderful. What an incredible journey!

You are really lucky. Congratulations!!!!


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 15 months ago from Minnesota Author

Thank you thumbiz-I am grateful everyday for the miracle of being cancer free after all this time.


Rachel L Alba profile image

Rachel L Alba 12 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

Hello, Linda, Friend; I was so happy read that they consider you cancer free. You truly have something to be "thankful" for this year. My mother died from cancer so I know all about it. Thank God He spared you. Thanks for revealing this to us.

I wish you and yours a Blessed Thanksgiving.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 12 months ago from Minnesota Author

Thank you Rachel for your sweet and thoughtful comment. I am a grateful woman who takes every day as a gift. Bless you for stopping by my hub. I really appreciate it :)

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