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Good medical experiences are a treasure.

cindi o'h

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I have felt a need to post this since yesterday. I mean, who else can I tell who would listen and be able to empathize with me. You all have become my kitchen table, coffee drinkin (and whatever else) kind of friends...

I have had some of the best doc experiences and some of the worst. The worst, I just hate to think about. When something good happens, I just feel a need to shout it out!

That is what happened yesterday.

Nov. 5, 2002 came my diagnosis of stage lllb lung cancer. I was hospitalized with what looked like a lung tumor on a chest xray.

I vaguely remember talking with the surgeon who was going to, hopefully, remove my lung. He was sitting straight up in the chair across the foot of my bed. I was resolved to his care. This man that I did not know. This man who spoke with a French accent.

Anyone coming to talk to me at that time, was a painful blur. I wanted them to leave me alone to my safe cocoon that I had put myself into. Yet, I knew that I had to be cooperative and I knew that they were there to help me and that I shouldn't bite them. I didn't. I just whimpered. Inside, I think.

This surgeon told me that he wanted to remove my lung if at all possible. I told him to go ahead.

I awoke from the mediastinoscopy with my lung still intact. I wanted the pain. I wanted the broken ribs. I wanted this lung in the incinerator. It was not to be. I cried.

My sisters said that while I was in the recovery room, that the surgeon had told them what had happened in there and what it meant. They pinned him down. How long does she have? I believe he answered the best he could.

Okay. So. Forward to the present.

I have been having a tough time breathing for so long. It has been taking a huge toll on my overall health and well-being. I have these recurrent effusions and repeat thoracentesis.

I talked at length with the surgeon recommended by my onc. Some things he said were sitting right with me. Others, not so right. It was the not so right gutt feeling that was bothering me. Gotta listen to the gutts.

I set up an appointment with my original surgeon. Always at least two opinions, right?

I walked into his office at least 40 minutes late. The last patient on a Friday afternoon. Not a good thing to do in my book. I was horribly stressed out. I had been to the radiologist's to get copies of my scans and what was supposed to take 5" turned into 45"... Circumstances beyond my control.

I was anticipating that the surgeon would have been gone. Instead, I was greeted with a very forgiving and enthusiastic smile of the receptionist. Then Zach roomed me. As I was going in, I briefly made contact with the surgeon's eyes. He was wearing scrubs now instead of the grey tweed suit he wore two years previous.

When he entered the exam room, we firmly shook hands. I told him, "You look much younger and much more handsome than I remember!" (shmoozer!)

He started to say that he remembered me and my case well. He was stating details from it. He remembered my family background, my brothers who were taken so young from lc...etc. I asked him how he remembered all of this. He said, "I remember ALL of my patients."

He went over the CTs on the computer. Asked me about the treatments. I told him that the last treatment was 6/03. "Nothing else?" ...."nope." He found that impressive.

He kept saying over and over how well I was doing. His right-hand nurse entered the room...huge smile.

He told his nurse the summary of my medical existence. He eyes were dancing. They were obviously thrilled.

My eyes were welling, then spilling over. I told them how grateful I was to them acting in swiftness toward getting me staged so quickly and on to treatment. I told them of this board and how so many who are left hanging out to dry for sometimes weeks or months without a diagnosis. I just felt so grateful as I remembered the emotional pain in my cocoon 2 and a half years earlier. Doctor said, "If you think we were good then, you should see us now!" He said that most who come through their lung cancer program have a solid diagnosis within 3 days. He said 5 is very unusual. He said that they do this because they know how awful the wait is. He said, "tell everyone you know about us."

I was still blubbering and very embarrassed by my lack of control over my emotional gratitude. The more I sobbed to them how lucky I felt, the more they grinned. I dropped one wet and snotty kleenex on the floor. Swiftly, he insisted on picking it up! How is that for humility?

He asked me if I would be willing to give some bedside chats to some of his patients. He said that there are some that he gets that would benefit by seeing me.

His nurse asked if I would be willing to help with starting a lung cancer survivor support group.

We talked about various treatment plans for my lung issue.

Without hesitation, I knew what treatment would be best and I knew that this man was the one to do it.

They both said that it had been a long difficult week and that they couldn't remember such a wonderful Friday afternoon 4 o'clock patient. What a way to end the week, they said.

I was flying high on my way home. So many horrible experiences on this journey and then there are these that are so savored. Some people are just the best.

Sorry so long. Hesitated to share, but felt compelled to tell someone. And you guys are my family. Like it or not!

Cindi o'h

oh. His nurse is going on vacation, so I think I will wait for her to come back before I commit to a date for surgery. It should be sometime in September.

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Oh Cin,

I am so happy you had this experience. I am SO jealous. It is so far from the realm of my own experiences that I amost find it unbelievable!

Hope this will be a resolution to many of your issues so you can finally get on to enjoying relatively good health and a wonderful life!



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I am so glad you trusted your gut and found the right guy. When I read your post, I could actually picture you smiling, inside and out. Isn’t it wonderful that the Dr. and his nurse actually see you as “Cindi”, instead of Chart 10345? I’m sure your personality gives them no choice!!

Nice story.


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Hi Cindi,

What could I say. That is a great story. What a wonderful doctor. Why don't you give his name, so people in your area may want to see him? He did ask you to do that.

I could see you as a mentor, talking to patients about your experiences and giving them hope. The support group is a great idea, and you would make the best moderator.

Looks like there was some devine intervention there. Things happen for a reason. I feel this will be perfect for you. Giving of yourself to help others is your gift to G-d.

I am so excited about this for you Cindi. I feel this may be a turning point for you. One full of hope and many friends who will always be grateful to you for your support.

"I believe friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly"

Take care, my friend as you are an angel in disguise. It is time to spread your wings. :wink:


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Oh, man, Cindi.....whatever remaining pent-up energy I have...I just exhaled it, reading your post.

If you were here, I'd not have to say a word...because you could see my reaction to this in my eyes. I'm SO pleased for you...that you not only had the wisdom to go back and see this surgeon...but that he held you up again, rather than letting you down.

Wow. He sounds like such a terrific guy...and his staff sounds equally good! And what a compliment to ask to to speak to other patients. I mean, nevermind how well you've gotten along...he asked because you have other skills to carry this off. Not every patient would have those skills!

Keep riding this high, Cin. It's deserved and it's so nice - despite all - to "hear" you smiling. :D

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Cindi, Cindi, Cindi!!!

That's the BEST news I have read in a long time! If you ever have a story like that again, don't you dare "hesitate to share!" I NEEDED THAT!!

Jeesh, if I didn't love Mark so much, I'd buy a ticket to MN so I could meet your doctor. I have one like that, too, and it makes all the difference, doesn't it? But I didn't get asked to help with a support group. You go, girl! The guy is a great judge of character and he knows an inspiration when he meets one!

Is that the sun peaking through the clouds? Yup! Give me my singlasses 'cause it's getting really bright!! :D


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Yes, well. Karen and all.

I should explain maybe about the surgery.

I have had these dang recurrent effusions that keep me short of breath. I have had several thoracenteses. It is my understanding that if I were terminal with very little time left, that I would continue to have the thoracenteses to keep me comfortable. This is not the case with me.

It is my understanding that the effusions are not uncommon with lc. They are often associated with metastatic disease. However, there is a possibility that the lymphs are scarred and not able to drain properly..hence, the fluid around the lung in the lung sac.

That is my hope.

With surgeon number one, all I could think of was how am I going to get this accomplished without him touching me??? :shock::P:oops::roll::(

So, everytime we talked, that was in the back of my subconscious. I was given a choice of having the bottle to drain the effusion at home and was going to go with that route, even though it sounds horrible and I am a wuss as far as gagging at the thought of a tube coming straight out of my body! He was talking about going in with a scope and taking a look around and I said, "NO way!"

With surgeon number two, I will be having the pleurodesis, (the talc procedure to glue the lining to the lung so that fluid cannot build up in there anymore). All I could think of was go ahead and take a look around and go ahead and snip anything that looks funny. And do anything else you want while you are in there.

It is called trust.

I have to be off the Plavix for 10 days. The doctor's nurse clinician will be on vacation while I am having this done. His scheduler said that the doctor could take care of me while she is gone.

Sorry to leave you all in the lurch about this.

love, Cindi o'h

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oh. Just talked with the doctor's scheduler.

I am on for surgery next Monday, the 29th of August! Doctor will be using the VATS procedure. (video assisted thoracoscopy). It is major surgery. There are risks. I'll be hospitalized for about 5 days.

He told me that he collapses the lung, takes a look around, snips anything that doesn't look like it belongs, applies the talc (I am not sure how) and re-inflates the lung. And voila! Green jello time!

I am feeling really good about this! I will take advantage of all the help I can to get back up on my feet again. I am going to ask for back rubs too!

Jimben is sending Domino's without pepperoni! Just plain Cheese. The nurse says to wait until the day after surgery, Jim.

XXXX everything that the pizza will be hot, the cheese will be brown and the crust crispy!

love, Cindi o'h

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Okay Cindi,

Starting with the prayers in REAL earnest right away. I am so glad you feel so comfortable with, and trust this doc so much. Makes this whole experience a little more doable, huh?

What do you think you will be in the mood for? The other day Ginny mentioned shoo fly pie! Let's see what else....ever hear of whoopie pies? YUM big time :D . Soft pretzels from Philly? They are the BEST with the GREASY, dirty hands of the street vendors and all the gasoline fumes :shock: . REALLY - the best! Whatever your little heart desires, my dear friend.

Make sure you keep us all up to date right up to Monday.



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Prayers are going up as I type. I know it won't be a vacation by any means, but it sounds like you will feel much better after all of this is behind you. Has someone got your number? Would be nice to check on you while you are in the hospital.

I feel good about this for you. What a blessing to be able to breathe again.


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