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My Story

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I am a male who was 56 years old at the time of my diagnosis in 2007. I am married, with three grown kids and two grandchildren. I am an ex cigar smoker who became a long distance cyclist. I rode a bicycle 6,000 miles in 2007.

I had no symptoms that really alerted me, but looking back, there were hints. The first was in June, 2007, when I experienced asthma like symptoms during a 128 mile ride. I wasn't wheezing, but was short of breath, unable to breathe in my usual amount. This would have not been noticeable on my couch, but was VERY noticeable on a 128 mile bike ride. I had to stop and catch my breath on the one significant hill on the ride, became exhausted much sooner than usual, and was barely able to complete the ride. When I got home and told my wife, she thought I should go to the ER, but I couldn't bring myself to tell a doctor, "Doc, I'm so terribly sick that I could barely complete a 128 mile bicycle ride." I also had bronchitis for three weeks in August. I've always been bronchitis prone, but hadn't had it this bad for years.

I was scheduled for thyroid surgery on September 29th. Three needle biopsies had failed to find any cancer in my thyroid nodule, but doctors don't like one as big as mine was in someone my age, so I agreed to surgery. I had already committed to a 500 mile four man relay bike race on the 29th, though, so I ask the doctors to reschedule. I rode my one-fourth of the 500 miles, and though I wasn't happy with my speed in the race, I felt fine. They scheduled the surgery for November 15th. A pre-surgery lung x-ray revealed a suspicious spot, so they did a ct scan, and at 8:15 pm, November 14th, the day before my scheduled surgery, the doctor called to tell me my surgery had been cancelled, and that he was pretty sure I had lung cancer. The ct scan showed no cancerous lymph nodes, and the 2.8 cm nodule was well contained within the upper lobe of my left lung, so doctors thought it was stage I, and that surgery would be all that was needed.

On December 20th, I had an upper left lobectomy, and was released from the hospital on Christmas Day. On January 5th, I had 40 staples removed from my side, and the next day, I was back on my bicycle. However, the biopsy from surgery showed a single lymph node near the nodule to be cancerous, thus changing the diagnosis to stage II, and the doctors recommended chemotherapy. The nodule was identified as squamous cell NSCLC.

In early February, 2008, my first attempt at chemotherapy ended quickly when I had an adverse reaction to taxotere and was rushed to ER. Starting the next week and ending in April, I had three rounds of cisplatin and gemcidabine. Being fit is no quarantee that you'll tolerate chemotherapy well, and I had my struggles with it. I had no gastrointestinal issues, and my blood work always looked good, but it turned me into a zombie who could hardly move some days, and I had severe pain in my toes after the second round, until gabapentin helped with that. My doctor wanted four rounds for adjuvent therapy, but my research showed that many doctors only give three, and as much as I was feeling the effects, I quit after three.

I slowly regained my strength, and on May 31st, did my first 100 mile ride of 2008. On June 19th, I finally had the thyroid surgery. The biopsy showed no cancer. My July CT scan showed NED. It is now September, and in spite of it all, I am finally on pace to make my 6,000 mile riding goal again this year.

January, 2009 update: I ended up riding 6,708 miles in 2008, and my one year scans were clear, so things are great to this point!

June, 2009: Clear scans again.

The November, 2007 scan:


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