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Found 5 results

  1. Early on, we learn Algebraic equations with only one solution. Then we encounter equations with two solutions -- Quadratic Equations. Consider: x2 + 3x – 4 = 0. This has two solutions: x = -4 or x = 1. Both are correct; one is negative and one is positive. Algebra students get very comfortable with solutions having a positive and negative outcome -- lung cancer survivors are less comfortable! The positive outcome for lung cancer is extended life. But like quadratic equations, there can be negative outcomes that are less desirable. Mine is chronic pain. So to the question, how does one fit a negative outcome into the positive? No, Algebra does not help. But, for those in treatment or surviving after treatment, preparing for life with negative outcomes is helpful. My chronic pain has two primary and many secondary causes. I have peripheral neuropathy -- numbness in fingers and toes including a burning sensation in toes and pain in the foot joints. It is a common Taxol side effect, and we informally call it “taxol toes.” Also, I have nerve damage caused by quite a few surgeries to my right chest that is chronically painful. How do I fit these negative outcomes into life? My strategy is to tolerate chronic pain until bedtime. Then something must be done or I won’t sleep. I’ve cycled through over-the-counter, then prescribed sleep medications. Both worked for a while. Doc found a study suggesting a therapeutic effect for Xanax on chronic pain. He prescribed a 0.5mg dose at bedtime, allowing an increase to a total of 1.5mg. This relaxes me and makes me drowsy. It works about 6-in-10 nights. A secondary cause sometimes drives pain above chronic levels. These are: chemotherapy induced joint pain; muscle cramps; stress, anger and excitement; sneezing and coughing; and flying on aircraft. The joint pain, an in-treatment side effect, required narcotic medication in every case to relieve. Reliance on narcotics has two downsides: an inability to think and function normally the next day and constipation. However, other secondary causes occasionally require narcotic medication to achieve relief. Because of the downside to narcotics, we’ve developed a couple of unique pain abatement procedures that may be of interest. Our first strategy is to apply prescribed lidocaine transdermal patches to incision scars and or feet in combination with Xanax. Since lidocaine dosage is limited to 2 patches, my wife cuts them into strips and fits them along my incision scars, and applies them to my feet. A pair of tight fitting socks are stretched over my feet to keep them in place. When the offending pain spike is either in my chest or feet, a full 2-patch application is used. The patches are applied in time to allow the Xanax to work and I sleep, hopefully. The next works only for feet and is a back-up strategy if lidocaine fails. My wife uses an ace bandage to wrap reusable frozen Blue Ice packs to the bottom of each foot. The cold is very uncomfortable for a couple of minutes, but in a short time my feet are numb and if I’m lucky, I sleep. Muscle cramping is a long term side effect from chemotherapy. It stems from low Magnesium blood levels. I take at least 500 mg of Magnesium supplement per day. My oncologist would rather I take 1000 mg, but I suffer digestive system revolt. I learned that almonds provide 75 mg of Magnesium per ounce so I snack in lieu of a second pill. Regardless, I still experience one to two cramping events per day. When they occur anywhere near my feet or chest, chronic pain soars. There is however, no remedy for cramps. The worst occur in the middle of the night and wake me up. Archimedes, the ancient Greek hydrologist, provided an explanation for why immersing up to my neck in a swimming pool eases incision pain. The upward buoyant force of the water offsets the gravitational pull on chest incisions thus minimizing pain. Almost every day our community pool is open, I spend hours in the water. This does not eliminate pain but reduces it noticeably. On leaving the pool, the normal level returns but it is very therapeutic. Lying in a bathroom tub, unfortunately, does not work because there is not enough water for complete submersion. A hot tub works fine, but there is no difference in pain relief from water temperature. Flying in a commercial airliner also spurs chronic incision pain. Most airlines pressurize their cabin between 6,000 and 8,000 feet pressure altitude. This lower-than-sea-level pressure expands my chest cavity increasing incision pain. All commercial flights hurt but long flights are very painful often requiring a dose of narcotic medication in flight. Not flying is the only remedy. Those having thoracic surgery have long complained of incision pain after commercial air flights and cabin pressure is the cause. Another secondary cause is extensive coughing and sneezing. Sneezing is particularly bad when it is a “surprise sneeze”. During the worst pollen events, I stay indoors and I try and avoid school age children to keep the chest colds in check, especially when school is in session. The last secondary cause I have the most control over: stress, anger and excitement. Admittedly, excitement is the easiest to control except when the Dallas Cowboys are playing my beloved Philadelphia Eagles. These two games a year are indeed stressful and since I live among cowboys, someone is going to be angry over the outcome. My wife reminds me when I complain too much that I am lucky to be alive. What’s a little pain given the alternative. She’s right. Doc reminds me to avoid scheduling things in the morning so I can sleep-in late if pain interferes. He’s right. Football season is right around the corner and it is a good thing games are scheduled in the afternoon and evening. Now if the Eagles start winning, everything will be fine! Stay the course.
  2. Today, on our Thanksgiving holiday, I am thankful that all in this photo, taken in November 2015, still survive. Stay the course.
  3. Hi Everyone, I had a follow up with my oncologist yesterday to review a CT scan I had done last week. He told me I was "disease free" (his words) and I asked him to repeat himself, because it was the first time a medical provider had used such simple terminology to give me an update since my original diagnosis of Stage IB Muscinous Adenocarcinoma in July 2016. I will have another CT scan in November and should have the results from my gene sequencing then as well. Everything has happened so fast for me, from my diagnosis to my surgery, to my recovery, that it all feels like a whirlwind and I am trying to get my footing in place too. These last few months have been difficult at times, and I am glad I had you all to help me through this process. Thank you all! My journey in this life is far from over and I look forward to reading all your updates. ~Yovana
  4. This is my story of survival. It tells of an encounter with a disease of death - lung cancer - and significant life after, a very precious and rare thing. Who I am is unimportant; what I've experience is: eleven plus years of treatment and survival. These words are set down for but one reason - to raise a call to arms to fund lung cancer research. Enough have suffered. It is time for change. I am not a doctor; indeed I possess little medical knowledge. I am, however, a very experienced and long-tenured lung cancer patient. That gives me a unique prospective on the disease that kills more, many times more, than any other type of cancer. I'll avoid statistics. They are readily available form any number of reputable resources. But, I have a firm belief that lung cancer research is poorly funded because it is considered a self-induced disease. I believe my cancer was caused directly by cigarette smoke. I recall a time when many of my peers smoked but they stopped well before middle age. I couldn't. I am addicted to nicotine. Every time I'd try cessation, the addiction would draw me back. Of course, people make a choice to take up smoking but that choice is made primarily when we are young and influenced by peer behavior. Young people do dangerous things. Consult the ubiquitous YouTube "fail videos" for validation. However, there are other disease that we choose to give ourselves. Consider Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) as just one example. Yes, some acquire it from medical transfusion or inadvertent needle sticks, but most are afflicted as a result of a behavior choice. HIV is described as a world-wide pandemic. It may be and in the US to address this largely self-induced disease, we invested $3.074 billion (billion with a B in 2012 for research. Consider further, we spent $1.052 billion on drug abuse funding and that is clearly self-inducted. Compare these with $314.6 million invested in lung cancer research (NIH Data). We spend about 10 times more on HIV/AIDS than lung cancer and drug abuse research garners 3.4 times more funding! In 2012, 47,989 people were diagnosed with HIV infection and about 13,834 died. In that same year, about 226,160 people were diagnosed with lung cancer and 160,340 died! Lung cancer kills 5 times more than HIV in the US. Lung cancer should be our pandemic! In 1998, the US and State Attorney's General entered into a Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement to collectively settle filed law suites against tobacco companies. This yielded $206 billion over a 25-year period. How much of that is dedicated to lung cancer research? About 0.065% or just over $1 billion is earmarked for federal research. Where does the money go? That is a very good question. We need to SCREAM about this inequity. If you are reading this, you are likely suffering from lung cancer or have a family member or close friend suffering. You've read or seen TV news coverage about the horrors of HIV/AIDS but thankfully, it is a problem most American families do not encounter. Yes there is a stigma of self-affliction for lung cancer but the same stigma should attach to HIV/AIDS. It does not and I wonder why my disease is so under accommodated! We speak of those who suffer or pass from lung cancer as engaged in battle. There is no battle for engaging in battle entails a choice. One can retreat. When diagnosed with lung cancer there are but two choices: treatment or death. Statistically for lung cancer, there is treatment and death! Treatment borders on barbarism that is repetitively endured, with uncertain outcomes, and with death looming closely. I was and still am to some degree overwhelmed by fear. I still get scanned once a year and the time between diagnostic scan and results is a nightmare to endure. My treatments nearly killed me, several times. I survived, not knowing why. My survival is hope for those who suffer, particularly for those 230,000 Americans who will receive a lung cancer diagnosis this year. If I can survive, so can you. But, we ought not rely on hope as an effective treatment method. We collectively need to speak out to those that decide on allocations of disease research dollars. Engage your elected officials. Ask them why they continue to under allocate research funding for our disease. Remind them that between 15 and 18-percent of lung cancer diagnosis arise from people who never smoke. Ask them if they are willing to rely on hope if they receive a lung cancer diagnosis.
  5. Hello Friends! Please see below a PDF of an article featuring me in Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation's Inspire Magazine where there is a wee mention of Lungevity! Hope you enjoy the read. To Read Click Here Eric
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