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My New Normal

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My husband and I were on our way to Ontario for a business trip. A week or so prior to that I had bronchitis again only this time it seemed to be so much worse. We were going to drive and make a stop in Kentucky to visit family. We started out at about 4am in the morning on a Saturday and got about two towns into our drive and I started coughing pretty bad. I just couldn't catch my breath. We stopped at the nearest Emergency Room. Again, diagnosed with accute bronchitis. They did however, take an x-ray which the ER doc said were fine. The physician at the time suggested that we go back home for a day and allow a chance for the meds to work and just leave on Sunday. Sitting on the couch just relaxing a phone call came from the hospital that we stopped at. There was something noted on the x-ray and they suggested that I contact my primary care physician Monday morning. What a wait that was. I am a nurse so I knew this wasn't good. I called back the hospital and got ahold of a very dear nurse who faxed over the report that day. When I read the report I knew it was bad news. I was in my primary care physician's office the following Monday. CT scan and PET scanned confirmed Stage 1 lung cancer. Being a nurse perhaps I reacted a little differently. I decided instead of crying and worrying about it I was determined to DO SOMETHING about it. I contacted our nearest Cancer Center and swiftly made an appointment. The first x-ray was done in September of 2003 and I underwent the thoracotomy in December of 2003. After the surgery I was quickly upgraded to Stage IIIA as the tumor was close to the medianstinum and they were unable to get clear margins. Prior to the surgery a mediansteinoscopy was performed which showed NED in the surrounding lymph nodes. I remember the nurse in post-op telling me "You gotta second chance". I wasn't so sure about that at the time. Since the margins weren't clear I had to undergo radiation. 30 treatments. About 3 weeks into the radiation I developed a severe case of esphogitis. I stopped the radiation for a week and told the rad onc I wasn't coming back. She said to at least come back in and we would discuss it. She compromised with me and decided to go at it from a different angle. I finished the radiation treatments. From the surgery I missed 5 weeks of work but only missed a couple of days from the radiation. Throughout all of this I thought that my husband was being supportive. He stayed with me at the hospital and was there for me every step of the way until the radiation was over. I came home from work one day to a message left on the answering machine saying he was leaving. I was devastated. I tried calling his cell phone, no answer. Called all of his friends they didn't know anything about it. Well I did find out after a period of time that he went to work for a truck driving company and is only anyones guess now. I was stuck with a house and yard work that I now couldn't take care of by myself. Now it is May of 2004. In June I had a routine follow up CT scan and it was discovered that the cancer had mets to my adrenal gland. They tried to biopsy it but collapsed my lung in the meantime. In August 2004 I had surgery to remove the adrenal gland. Out of work again for two weeks. Oh I don't think I mentioned but I live in Florida and now it is the start of hurricane season. 2004 was the worse hurricane season in Florida. Four storms and I'm trying to recover from another surgery, deal with the storms and sell my house my world was turned upside down. I just wanted to roll over and die. Of course I had to start chemo so that didn't help matters. The house sold after the third storm but when the fourth one came through I had the responsibility of restoring the house back to where it was when the guy made the original offer. House was finally sold in October. I now had to find an apartment and get my stuff moved. Thank God for two near and dear friends in my life. My girlfriend stayed with me during the storms and another friend of mine helped me pack up and move my stuff from the house to the apartment. All while trying to do the chemo. Well I did it. I made it through chemo got moved. The last two scans that I have had say NED. But this disease certainly has changed my life. I never plan any further than 3 months out. The surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy have left me feeling tired most of the time but I suppose that's a small price to pay. I try to carry on as normally as possible, but at times its hard. Sometimes I ask why me, why have I survived this long? Am I supposed to be doing something special with this extra time that God has given me? And when I'm not feeling good I trully say that I am ready to go home. If I'm ever diagnosed again I think I will choose "The Road Less Traveled" and let the disease run its course. I have lived longer than most expected and I am thankful for it. I don't think that I can go through another surgery. It's been almost two years since the removal of the right upper lobe and I still have pain. I hate wearing a bra it just hurts too much. Oh I have pain medicine that I take but nonetheless I still have some discomfort even when not wearing a bra. I will also tell those who read this that I was a smoker for over 30 years. I still smoke from time to time. The addiction to cigarettes sometimes is bigger than the disease. I don't know if this bio will help, encourage or just inform other folks. But this is my new normal. :roll:

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