Reflections of a Cancer Journey
Getting a Cat Scan
How the cancer journey began...
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.
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Non-small cell lung cancer is a group of lung cancers that behave similarly, such as squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.Symptoms are a cough that won't go away, shortness of breath, weight loss, or coughing up blood.Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
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.
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
Have you ever felt Hopeless
© 2015 Linda Rogers