Jump to content

Recommended Posts

I just had an upper left lung lobectomy on June 13th.  Every test, scan and biopsy came out negative for cancer but my dr felt it probably was cancer and stage 1.  When they did surgery it turned out to be stage 3 with lymph nodes affected and smaller nodule in right lung.  So now I set for radiation and chemo (taxol/Carboplatin) for 6 weeks.  Of course I have discussed with my children and both have different opinions.  I am a 67 yr old widow who lives alone.  I am very concerned about how I can do this aggressive treatment on my own.  Stage 3B very scary and is it really worth it.  My other issue I was healthy and working full time until drs decided I was sick.  Now I fear I will never return to work and if that happens I can not even support myself.  I would really like some opinions from someone with experience.   I am very scared.

Thanks in advance, Jaybee

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, Jaybee, and welcome!  Sounds like it was a good thing your doctor went on experience and instinct rather than slavishly going with what the tests showed--medicine is an art as much as it is a science.  Has the nodule on your other lung been diagnosed as cancer?  If not, it isn't necessarily anything to worry about.  Most nodules are not cancer--I have several that my doctors are not particularly worried about that have been there from the beginning.  Only one of them had a suspicious appearance and grew--that was the only one that was cancerous.

I was fortunate enough to be Stage 1, so I had no treatment other than surgery.  But there are plenty of folks here who have done chemo and radiation--many of them are out of commission only for a short time while undergoing therapy.  We have people here who were Stage 4 still kicking around more than 10 years later--I think every one of them feels their treatment has been worth it.  

People here who have had chemo or other drug treatments and radiation have different experiences.  Not everyone has dramatic or debilitating side effects--response/reactions are very individual.  If you need help with home care, there should be someone at the hospital (patient navigator or social worker) who can hook you up with any services you need. There also may be in-person support groups, in addition to the great support you will find here on the forums.  

I know it feels very scary and overwhelming right now.  Try to take things one step at a time.  Let your medical professionals know about any help you think you might need.  I take it your family is not nearby?  Do you have friends who might be able to give you a hand for those days when you might be feeling extra tired or sick?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Jaybee and welcome.

I hear and understand your fear and concern. I had a lower right lobectomy in November 2016 and my lung cancer was Stage 1a, so I didn't need further treatment. I had tow previous cancers, Stage 1 Breast cancer in 2008 and Stage 3 cervical/endometrial in 2011. For the Stage 3, I had 6 weeks of concurrent chemo (Cisplatin) and radiation and then 3 rounds of Carboplatin and Taxoterre. My spouse wet with me to my first concurrent chemo/rad and my firs round of Carbo/Taxol. After that , I drove myself to all of my chemo and radiaiton appointments alone. This treatment was definitely not fun, but it was manageable. I had digestive system issues because my gut was being radiated.  I didn't have much fatigue -- a problem that a lot of people have from raidation. 

Fortunately, I was retired from full time work (I was working part time off and on)  so I didn't need to worry about working during my treatment. I did have some late occuring side effects from my radical gynecologic surgery, so I was our of commission for a while, but I did go back to part time work eventually. 

You'll probably hear from others  on this forum who worked during their chemo/radiation and/or have returned to full time work afterwards. Treatment affects each of us differently. The fact that you were healthy before being diagnosed  I suspect you will deal with treatment better than you think. You won't know for sure unless you try it. LexieCat's suggestions about finding support locally are excellent. 

I've been through a lot of treament with 3 cancers and it's been worth it for me. My life today is good and I hope to live a good meny more years. 

Hang in there Jaybee. Let us know what questions you have and how we can support you.

Bridget O

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a 60 year old widow who also lives alone, I understand your fear. I haven't been diagnosed yet - I am awaiting PET scan in 3 weeks. I have a 4x1 cm mass in my left lung, and had pulmonary embolisms. May I ask what brought you to the doctor when they found your cancer?

All I can say is try to take things one step at a time and don't let your mind go to the darkest places. Just carry on as best you can, putting one foot in front of the other. I'm sending as much positive energy your way as I can.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am so sorry you are going through this cancer journey. I was told I had lung cancer November 2016. That same week my husband had a massive heart attack. Friends took me to testing and offerred so much support.  Initially, I was told Stage IA. After surgery in February with upper right lobe removed and 13 lymph nodes (4 cancerous) I was told Stage IIIB. Even though surgeon and oncologist at M D Anderson believe I am cancer free, I am doing chemo then radiation with my local oncologist. Lung cancer can be persistent. I strongly believe that reaching out for support from others can help. Friends, your church, Cancer groups. I go to youtube.com for short videos on anxiety related meditation, funny videos, dance/music videos. Carve out time away from a focus on cancer. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, Jaybee.  Sorry you have to deal with this crummy disease but so glad you found us.  I was initially diagnosed as stage IV in 2016 and had a recurrence in 2017.  In 2016, I had a lobectomy followed up by chemo.  I went back to work 4 weeks after surgery, and worked during chemo.  For my recurrence, I had 6 weeks of chemo (carboplatin/taxol) and radiation.  My employer is very flexible so I was able to work from home whenever necessary.  In fact, I worked from home during all of my treatment in 2017.  Not working is not an option for me for a number of reasons, but primarily because I need the distraction.  

We've seen so many incredible advances over the last few years that many of us are living longer than ever.  We have many long-term survivors here.  Do you know if your doctor tested you for any biomarkers/genetic mutations?  For those with certain markers , immunotherapy is an option. 

Treatment can be challenging but we all react differently.  The most significant radiation side effect for me was fatigue.  By week 3, I was taking a nap at lunch every day.  But, full disclosure, I had my thyroid removed in 2016 and chemo/radiation threw my numbers out of whack so that contributed to my fatigue.  You might find this link useful; it gives you an idea of what side effects to expect and how to deal with them.  Just keep in mind that your medical team should be able to help you with any side effects. I had meds for nausea and pain from the chemo, and took OTC meds for heartburn related to my radiation.  

Please let us know how we can help you.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jaycee,

Welcome aboard. 

You’ve already received some great information about this forum and lung cancer. 

I’ll focus on fear and how cancer affected my ability to work. First, some prospective. I was diagnosed stage IIIB nearly 15 years ago. If I can live, so can you!

Lung Cancer is frightening. It was my first serious illness. It was not my first brush with death, but it was the first I had absolutely no influence in outcomes. There is no magic potion that reduces fear. In time, you will learn to cope but it is always just under the surface in my life and rises to prominence a couple of weeks before my bi-annual oncology consult. 

I didn’t work during my first line treatment (6 weeks of radiation and weekly chemo). Then I had a year’s worth of surgical mayhem that kept me mostly in the hospital. I did work during third line and fourth line chemo and fifth line radiation. I did so for the same reason Susan did: I needed the distraction. 

Going it alone will be tough. Others here have done it and we are here for you. I hope you have family or friends that can help. 

Questions?  We’ll field those. 

Stay the course. 

Tom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to all of you for your replies.  I am going thru with treatment.  I believe attitude is so very important and I can tell you I am far from a good one.  I have been so discouraged by all that has happened.  Going through this living alone scares the crap out of me.    I have never been sick and this is now taking a toll of my whole life.  Thats is the hard part.......being sick.  Hope I don;t sound like a whiner but maybe I am.

Jaybee

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Jaybee,

You're entitled to whine. Cancer is a drag and we all whine (or worse) at times. I'm glad to hear you've made a decision for treatment. Hang in there and just put one foot in front of the other.  Just take one day at time. Let us know how we can support you.

Bridget O

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm glad to hear you've decided to forge ahead.  Please don't get ahead of yourself, though--as I said, every person/case is different.  You should kind of prepare yourself to be feeling a bit crummy during parts of your treatment, but there's no reason to assume it's going to be horrible and unrelenting.  

What helped me when I was just starting out and not knowing what the results of my surgery would be was to control what I could.  For instance, I gave my house a good cleaning before surgery because I knew I'd be feeling not so great for a couple of weeks at least.  I touched up my hair color, knowing it might hurt to hold my arms up until I'd healed a bit.  That sort of thing.  Planning ahead can help reduce the worry and stress--it did for me, anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Entering week 3 of my radiation/chemo treatments.  It has been difficult, no surprise there.  So far I have been able to drive myself to treatment every day.  Doing this alone is horrid, but I knew it could be.  The oncologist said today I am a "high risk"  patient.  There was so much discussion with him that I did not get to ask why he said that.  I will when I see him in a couple of weeks and will definitely bring it up.  But meanwhile, does anyone know why I would be considered High risk?   I have never been sick in my life (67) until they told me I was sick.    So I am now  concerned what that means.  Thanks to you all.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"High risk" could mean high risk for anything--from getting cancer to susceptibility to side effects, to likelihood of recurrence, to, well, anything.  Only your doctor can explain what he meant by that.  It isn't a "term of art" that means the same thing whenever it's used by a doctor.  You'll just have to ask him what he meant by that and, most important, what it means for YOU.  Find out whether there is anything you can or should do to mitigate whatever the risk may be.

Sounds like you're managing pretty well so far.  From what I hear, radiation's side effects can become more intense toward the end of the treatments.  Hopefully it will continue to be something you can manage on your own, but it might be a good idea to try to line up some help in case you need it for the last part.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, Jaybee,

There are a number of factors which can increase a person's risk of lung cancer. To name a few:

  1. Age 65 and older
  2. Air pollution
  3. Asbestos and other carcinogens
  4. Family or personal history of cancer
  5. Radon
  6. Tobacco smoke

You can find more information and additional risk factors here: https://lungevity.org/for-patients-caregivers/lung-cancer-101/reducing-your-risk

Please continue to post updates and ask questions. We are here for you!

With gratitude,

Lauren
--
Digital Community Manager
LUNGevity Foundation

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×