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Mandy's Story

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May 5th I received a phone call at work reminding me of a one year follow-up appointmaent with my family doctor the next morning. I had totally forgotten it and almost cancelled it because it was a busy time in our office. However, I decided to go ahead and get it behind me.

The appointment was pretty routine. I did mention to my doctor that I seemed to be tired all the time and took naps whenever I could in the afternoons and on weekends. He said that could be a symptom of depression and wrote a prescription. Almost as an after thought, I told him that I occasionally have a pain under my left rib cage. I questioned whether it could be my lungs. He looked at my folder again and said, "Hummmm, you are a smoker, let's get a chest xray."

I had hardly made it back to my office when I got a call from him. He told me there was a "spot" on my upper right lung. (Pain I had mentioned was on lower left lung.) When I asked him how big, he told me it was pretty big... the size of a softball. He asked me to return to his office.

I remembered that I thought I remembered a cousin who had resently moved to my town had been on meds for TB. I told my doctor this and he said that was the best news he had heard all day. He put a mask on me and sent me to the Health Department while hae called to explain the situation. He also wrote a note for me not to return to work until we determined if the "spot" was indeed TB. When my skin test was read, it was positive 21 mm. We assumed we had confirmed TB. During the next two weeks, I was allowed to return to work after everyone else went home as long as I wore a mask while in the building. My doctor had done a sputum test and it had come back all normal cells. I then went for a bronchoscopy on May 23. The results for this were negative for TB or cancer... all normal cells. At this point my doctor was convinced that it was not active TB. A needle biopsy was done on May 30th. By June 1st, we knew that I had large cell carcinoma that measured 6.5 cm.

By this time I had been referred to a pulmonary doctor. He ordered a bone scan, CT scan of the lungs and brain, breathing tests, blood analysis and a PET scan. All of these test results were good, nothing abnormal except the tumor in my upper right lung. I was referred to a surgeon.

My daughter and I had a cruise planned to Alaska for June 18th (my trip was free through my job and my daughter had gotten a reduced rate). I mentioned this to my doctors and they all said for me to go ahead and take the trip... enjoy the time with my daughter. We scheduled the surgery for the day after we returned from our trip.

The upper lobe of my right lung was removed on June 28. When the surgeon came out to update my family, he told them that the tumor was larger than he expected 9.5 cm and that he had to scrape the tumor off the back wall of my lung. He also said the lymph nodes looked inflamed. He suspected that he cancer had spread. However, when the test results were back, the nodes were negative for cancer. I was in the hospital for 4 days total. It had been estimated that I would be there for 8 - 10 days.

I go for my first follow-up appointment tomorrow. I know I will have to have radiation and maybe chemo and it will not be a pleasant road ahead. I have learned so much through this whole experience. I have been so blessed. I look at every day through a different perspective. So many things in life that seemed so important a few months ago have no meaning now, but so many more important things have so much more meaning... especially faith, family, and friends.

Bless you all,


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