Surviving the Diagnosis of Lung Cancer
This hub is written from personal experience. Items expressed here are personal experiences of the author and are not intended to give advice on any health matters.
I am not a medical professional. You should in the case of illness or suspected illness seek the advice of a medical professional immediately.
Internet articles do not replace the need to seek professional medical advice on personal health matters.
Prior to emigrating from England in 2006. I suffered very little lung disease. A touch of Bronchitis every Winter. But little else.
On taking my Visa medical in January 2006 the doctor even complemented me on the health of my lungs considering my hometown location amidst the oil refineries and chemical works of the Lower River Mersey Estuary a little inland from Liverpool and a center even then for Lung Diseases of all kinds, including cancer.
I have never smoked but spent my childhood in a home where my mother smoked from my birth until I was fifteen, when she gave up smoking herself.
Within weeks of arriving in the Central Valley of California, I was sick with pneumonia caused by "San Joaquin Valley Fever" a fungal lung infection that is prevelent in the desert areas of the South -Western USA and Mexico. That contraction of "Valley Fever: has led to lots of confusion in recent months as doctors and radiographers have veered from seeing the growing mass on my right lung being a reoccurance of "Valley Fever" or a cancerous growth.
Between late 2006 and June 2012 I had several Chest X-Rays and Computer Tomography (CT) Scans which showed some scarring of both lungs from the Valley Fever. This scarring often raised the question of whether there was a cancerous tumor lurking in there somewhere.
Two particular X-Rays one in December 2011 and the other in June 2012 raised the alarm bells as a mass was seen growing in the lower lobe of the right lung.
Cancer Survivor Books
Working Up to a Diagnosis
Between the intial discovery of the Mass or Tumor and a full diagnosis I had several months to contemplate what was going on.
I never really felt very ill for sure. I had a growing back ache, a wheezy cough that left me hardly able to hold a conversation and tired breathlessness. By the way those are also symptomatic of anything from Valley Fever to flu as well so symptoms were very vague.
My mond often wandered to think of what was happening. You know something is wrong, my doctor had talked of all the possibilities of various diseases so cancer had always been on the table.
What I didn't know was what the problem really was.
That is the first cause of worry. The Unknown.
How to Survive the Investigation Process
You need to be proactive in your role as patient. Only you can know how you feel and press your doctor to listen to your concerns.
Keep planning for the future. Probably at first you'll be thinking the worst, that is common. But you are only being INVESTIGATED for a POSSIBLE cancer. That is not a diagnosis. Plan to do something special after each test.
Keep a sense of balance in your life. Don't let the possible diagnosis play tricks with your mind. It will if you let it, and that is a very bad habit to get into having.
Start learning about what is happening and why. Ask Doctors and Technicians about the procedures you are getting. The Doctors can tell you more about why than a Technician will but asking questions keeps the most important person in the room informed. THAT IS YOU.
Do some serious research from reputable medical sources about your possible illness. There are lots of bad websites out there concerning cancer but some good ones too.
Don't believe that death is the only prognosis. Survival rates are getting better every year. You have every chance of surviving if a diagnosis of cancer is confirmed.
Keep as active as you can. Exercise helps you keep a good mental attitude. Don't over exert yourself. Keep within your limits if you couldn't run a marathon yesterday, don't try to run one tomorrow. But maybe plan a regime to run one in a year
Well possibly this capsule could have a better title!
Anyway. You will probably have several weeks of tension, worry and mood swings. As each test progresses you get closer to a meeting with your doctor. A meeting which may end happily where you are found not to have a cancer. Fine, we all want to hear that, but your relief may be tinged with emotion because you have gone through a lot of nervous energy in the past few weeks. Don't feel bad.
If on the other hand the doctor has other news. You'll possibly feel some relief too. Now you know the problem you can begin to cope and work to heal yourself.
You will be armed with all sorts of knowledge from your questioning of doctors and technicians in the past few weeks. All the research will have cleared some of the fears of past misinformation and though initially you will probably still feel stunned by all the news. You are going to be able to set yourself the goal of being a survivor.
A last tip: When visiting the doctor for the diagnosis appointment. Take a friend or relative in the consultation with you. They will almost certainly be able to recall what the doctor said much more easily than you will. Also prime them with questions you feel you need to ask the doctor. You'll probably forget in the consultation which will be stressful which ever way it goes.