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My Cancer Survival Story: lung cancer survivor and colon cancer survivor stories
I have been a colon cancer survivor for about a decade and a lung cancer survivor for three years. I am grateful for modern medicine and for excellent surgeons for survival.
Cancer is a subject that was not discussed when I grew up. When my father died I never heard the word cancer. In retrospect and knowing more about cancer symptoms I now know that he had cancer. I don’t know why cancer was a taboo subject but it was. I saw purple molds on his body but did not know that they meant anything. My grandfather had a blue or purple discoloation on his lip where he held his pipe. I never knew it meant anything. Maybe nobody knew back in the 1950’s.
The year 1999 we were living in Moline, Illinois it was an odd year for weather. El Nino winters seemed to come to an end. In the late fall we got snow slush and cold and The stores were about sold out of winter boots.
In my physical exam in that year my doctor found blood in my rectal exam and sent me to have a colonoscopy. I then had to drink some truly awful stuff to clear my bowels and when I got to the exam they found a tumor that was almost totally obstructing my colon. This was about December 16. They told me I could go home for a couple of weeks and enjoy the holidays or go into the hospital directly. Despite the fact that I would be in the hospital over Christmas I opted for going to the hospital. Mainly because I didn’t want to go through that prep again.
The weather had gotten extremely cold, as in subzero, and it had snowed a lot—several inches. My wife was unable to get to the hospital because our house was snowed in. Even inside the hospital it was chilly, to say the least. I was rather startled when some attendants brought in what looked like a fish tank filled with a solution that I was supposedly supposed to drink. I had a talk with the surgeon and told him that I had just had a colonoscopy and should already be fairly cleared out. He did reduce the amount of prep fluid I had to consume but it still seemed like as lot. I never had any colon cancer symptoms, at least none that I recognized.
The surgery went well but I had to stay in the hospital until after Christmas. I’t was a pleasant surprise to have some visitors from work. My supervisor came and we chatted for a while. A supervisor from another division came. I didn’t really know him but because he had colon cancer himself he came to give me encouragement. That was really nice of him. The woman who I was basically training to take my place when I retired came to visit. She also volunteered her family to help my wife by shoveling snow and doing some shopping for her. She also volunteered to pick me up from the hospital when I was released. These were some positive experiences, which I will long remember.
My son and my daughter came from Minneapolis and stayed for a few days and helped out with things while I was incapacitated.
My future replacement was a bit worried about not having me there at work for guidance. However, she was a very competent person and I told her it was a good experience because she would learn the jobs faster this way.
My surgery was followed with chemotherapy and I did retire about 18 months later.
After my lung surgery a neighbor kindly offered to help with anything he could do.
About three years ago I became a lung cancer survivor when a routine x-ray revealed a rather large tumor in my right lung. A lung cancer prognosis was made after have a biopsy. I had not had any lung cancer symptoms even though they removed a tumor described as being as large as a tennis ball. In this case the surgery was done at St Joseph’s hospital in Marshfield, Wisconsin. Oddly the weather was much like the year I had the other surgery. Lots of snow and cold.
The tumor was successfully removed and followed up by chemotherapy. My doctor that treats me for cancer has reduced follows up to once a year for I think two or three more years.
My daughter and granddaughter drove in from Minneapolis the night before my surgery and were there for a few days. My son and family who lived nearby were there the night before also.
I didn’t seem to have any particular side effects from the colon cancer but the lung cancer has led to some. Over the last year or two I have been bothered by an allergic reaction of facial swelling. An allergist has taken me off of aspirind and related products, I have not had any problem with swelling for a while. However the allergist tells me that it is also an effect of the cancer so something else could cause the swelling in the future. I have also had a yeast infection in my lungs, which the doctor treating me tells me that the cancer has weakened my resistance to such infections. I am told that the yeast spores are everywhere. I have just finished a six-month anti-biotic treatment for it, but have not had follow up x-rays yet.
Support groups are popular with some people. For me, personally I am not inclined to join them. If you have a serious illness and are in recovery I would recommend considering a support group if it might help you.
© 2011 Don A. Hoglund