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Helene

Husband just diagnosed stage2B

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My husband was diagnosed with lung cancer in November 22nd. Two days after is 54th birthday. 

He was very healthy and no symptoms. So the news came as a shock and it's extremely scary.

 It took exactly 3 weeks for us to finally learn the type of cancer, the stage and if the cancer had spread anywhere.  At this point we haven't seen an oncologist yet. We have an appointment with the oncologist on Dec 26th. 

We are very frustrated because it seems very long to get results and treatment started. 

So the cancer is Adenocarcinoma, the tumor is 5cm maybe larger in the upper lobe of his right lung.  The stage is 2B (T1-N0-M0). The MRI was clear and the PET scan showed no sign of cancer anywhere else.

 

Here are my concerns. The tumor has reach the chest wall. I'm not sure what that means exactly as far as treatment goes. And my husband feels pain and numbness underneath his right arm. He also feels cramps in his chest. He can barely tolerate a shirt rubbing against the skin in his arm and chest. The doctor wants to do another MRI of his shoulder and arm.  

As i said we have not seen the oncologist yet but the surgeon told us that Bruno would have 4 round of chemo and 20 days of radiation in order to shrink the mass and then he would be able to operate. 

I would love to hear from someone with a similar diagnosis. I would like to know if it is typical to take so long to start treatment. With 20 days of radiation can you still work during that time?

Thank you.  

 

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Helene,

Oh my, a lung cancer diagnosis during the holiday season, that's not good.  

If it is any consolation, your husband's condition and mine follow almost the same path.  I was diagnosed stage 3 but with Squamous Cell NSCLC at 53.  My treatment also consisted of pre-surgical radiation and chemo to shrink the tumor and allow resection of my lung.  The pre-surgical treatment worked for me and gave the surgeon enough room to remove my lung.  The 3-week delay in diagnosis also was about the same timeline for me. So I think your delay timeline is typical.  My tumor was in the main stem bronchus of my right lung and was 7 cm long.

Can one work during chemo and radiation?  I'm assuming the treatment plan is 20 days of radiation (once per work day) for a month and one chemo infusion per week is the treatment plan.  If this is the case, he ought to be able to work for at least 3 of the 4 weeks.  The last week will be difficult.  In my case, I went through the first two weeks of radiation without any impact.  In week 3, I started to notice a decline in energy level and a sunburn-like pain in the radiated area.  I also started a dry, non productive cough.  Both of these symptoms were controlled by medication but the decline in energy level was more pronounced every day.  The last week, I was extremely fatigued and hardly had the energy to navigate from home to clinic.  So, he could work for perhaps 2 of the 4 weeks of treatment.  The chemo I received was an understrength version and I had almost no side effects from chemo, not even hair loss!

Your concern about the tumor reaching the chest wall is difficult to address.  Is the tumor in the tissue lining the chest wall or is it in his ribs?  I doubt it is in the ribs because surgery would not be a treatment plan option.  If it is in the tissue of the chest wall, that is not all that uncommon.  As for the pain that would be uncommon if the cancer has not invaded his bones.  Normally lung cancer tumors display no symptoms unless or until the cancer enters bones.  But the PET showed no metastasis anywhere else so that would minimize the possibility of bone involvement.  You might ask about a bone scan to rule out bone metastasis.  Cramping may be occurring because of low magnesium levels in the blood stream.  Has this been reported in his blood work.  I developed muscle cramps but during my pre-surgical chemo and radiation and my medical oncologist determined low magnesium blood levels. I am still affected by muscle cramping despite taking 1000 mg of magnesium each day.  But, my magnesium deficiency was related to chemotherapy, so something else must be involved.

It is mildly alarming that your husband has moved this far down the typing and staging trail without seeing a medical oncologist. That speciality is the quarterback of your lung cancer treatment team and I'd get one on board as a matter of priority.  Here is some additional information that you might find helpful at this juncture.

You are most welcome here.  I mentioned I was 53 when diagnosed.  I am now 67 and come February will  celebrate 14 years of life after lung cancer diagnosis.  Your take-away from that point should be if I can live, so can your husband.  You'll likely have questions as treatment starts and this is a good place for answers.  

Stay the course.

Tom

   

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Hi Helene,

I want to welcome you to the forum. I'm glad to see that Tom has respinded and has been able to answer a lot of your queestions from personal experience. let us know how else we can support you. This site is  a good place to find information and hope.

Bridget O

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Hi Helene,

Although there is never a good time to receive a cancer diagnosis, the holidays are the worse - the same happened with my family in 2015 when my mom was diagnosed right before Thanksgiving.  I can't remember how long the process took for diagnosis, but I remember it feeling like forever.  Even now, with each scan, time seems to drag until we find out the results.  I'm glad you found these forums and please know, as Bridget stated, we are here for you.

Take care,

Steff

 

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