Everything posted by LexieCat
Oh, one other thing--depending on where the tumor is (and other factors), surgery isn't always the ordeal it used to be. I (and quite a few other folks here) had VATS (video-assisted thoracic surgery), which is a laparoscopic procedure. I have three tiny incisions on my side/back--no huge scar, no rib-spreading. Believe it or not, they can remove the entire lobe of a lung that way--it's AMAZING. I was out of the hospital after a couple of days (though I had to return for just a few more days because of a minor air leak that caused my neck and face to swell up--not dangerous, but uncomfortable). I was able to go out with friends to dinner and a concert less than two weeks after my surgery. And I have no lingering effects from the surgery--no shortness of breath or pain. I feel a small twinge when I have a sharp intake of breath, but I wouldn't call it pain--and it's momentary. So just one other thing to consider in terms of dialing down the anxiety--it's worth trying to find a surgeon who can do VATS, if your condition permits.
I don't think ANYONE skips into thoracic surgery--or chemo, radiation, or anything else involving lung cancer. What helped me was to try to keep the possibilities in balance. My pulmonologist (who was doing the screening and first pegged my nodule as suspicious) told me, in response to my question, that there was a possibility the nodule was benign, but it was a very small probability--maybe two percent. So I knew going in that chances were that SOMETHING was going to happen. At that point, I read up and found out that if the cancer is small and limited, there's a chance I would have the surgery and nothing further. The likelihood of that increased when I had my PET/CT scan and the suspicious nodule was the only thing that "lit up." Now, that didn't guarantee there would be no cancer in the lymph nodes, but still, it was reason not to get carried away till I knew more. I was lucky enough to have a surgeon I absolutely LOVED, who explained everything in a very factual, yet reassuring way. He explained what they would do, step by step, and what would likely follow if this or that turned out to be the case. When the pathology was done, after the surgery, my cancer was staged as "officially 1b" (which my surgeon disagreed with because he felt the pathologist misinterpreted the specimens due to the way they had been cut--pathologist believed the tumor had invaded the pleura--the lining of the lung--and surgeon disagreed based on what he'd seen during surgery). So they had to go with what the pathologist said, but even so, 1b gave me an option as to whether to receive chemo after surgery. Based on surgeon's recommendations, and everything I had read, I opted for no further treatment. I have scans every six months to be sure everything remains good, and I still have two or three non-suspicious nodules they will continue to monitor. I'll admit I still get nervous going in for those scans. But I also know that there's a good chance that the surgery completely cured the cancer. And the other thing that helped me was seeing how the people on this forum have managed their illness. Sometimes it takes a while to hit on the most effective treatment, but there are a lot of long-term survivors here. And new treatments are being developed all the time. So I choose to hope for the best and know that if, at some point, things go south, there are a lot of options and a lot of success stories. I choose to be grateful I KNOW about this threat to my health, so I can do something about it, rather than remaining blissfully ignorant until it's too late. So, no, it never gets to the point where any of us is happy or casual about lung cancer. It's serious stuff. But it really IS possible to develop a mindset that allows you to keep living your life.
Hi, Ann, and welcome. Sorry you got such scary news in such an unexpected way. While it wasn't optimal, there's no non-scary way to find out you may have lung cancer. I was in a screening program, specifically checking for issues, and it was still a shock and upsetting. Obviously, further testing is necessary to find out what exactly is going on. But maybe this will help put some of it in perspective. You have two nodules with a suspicious appearance. The good news from what you know so far is that they are still fairly small, and they are in the same lobe. And the "something doesn't look right" in the mediastinum could be anything. Lymph nodes enlarge to fight infection, too, so it's way too soon to assume you "probably" have metastatic cancer. What you're describing could very well still be early stage cancer. So try not to get ahead of yourself. As awful as waiting is, a couple of weeks or more is not unusual to get the information necessary. As important as it is to get on top of this right away, it isn't like a heart attack where seconds count. You want the doctors to have all the information necessary to make the best treatment recommendations. Yes, reading up on lung cancer to arm yourself with enough information to ask the right questions is a valuable use of your time right now. And I'm going to suggest one other thing--work on quitting smoking. Absolutely NO judgment here toward smokers--I didn't quit until I started my lung cancer screenings (about a year before I was diagnosed). I was a heavy smoker for over 40 years. The thing is, the sooner you quit, the sooner your lung function will begin to improve, which is important in the event of surgery and recovery. And, of course, if it turns out you DO have cancer, you certainly want to get yourself as healthy as possible and not to add to any damage already done. Nobody KNOWS why some people get cancer and others don't--and you don't have to be a smoker to get lung cancer. But it certainly does pose a risk factor you don't need right now. Hang in there--there is a lot of collective knowledge and support on this forum. Teri