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Five Years

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In September 2003, I was given a chest X-ray during a yearly physical. I had no symptoms, no cough or pain or fatiigue. I felt fine. My doc called to say that there was a suspicious mass. Next day, a CT scan confirmed and I was sent to a surgeon at a Cancer Center. A mediastinoscopy and biopsy showed a tumor with some lymph involvement, and I was told I had Stage IIIA nsclc.

The treatment was chemo and radiation, which did shrink the tumor, which was removed in a lobectomy in December 2003. More chemo followed in early 2004.

All was fine until a metastasis was dicovered in August 2004, a tumor in an adrenal gland. I was treated with more chemo, but there was no change. In December 2004 I started on Tarceva. In February 2005 my doctors happily told me that the tumor had 'died.' Although I had been told that surgery would not normally be done on a metastatic site, the adrenal tumor was removed in June 2005.

Since then I've had CT or PET/CT scans and blood tests at 3 month intervals (now 6 months), with no recurrence and today I'm as healthy as ever, 5 years 3/12 months after diagnosis.

I think that the Tarceva was the key. I was on it for 3 years, longer than most, I think. I had skin problems including pretty severe acne, dryness, eye infections, and a frequent upset stomach. In the third year, these effects caused a bleeding ulcer, which was repaired with arthrocopic surgery in 2007. I might have stayed on Tarceva, but eventually I couldn't tolerate it. We were convinced that it had done its job.

I feel blessed to have had this experience. I was happy to find that I was able to enjoy life throughout, and with an increased appreciation for every day. That in itself was very comforting. I enjoyed wonderful support during my treatment from family, and my relationships are stronger than ever. I'm convinced that it was much harder on those around me.

I feel for those less fortunate, most of the victims of lung cancer. There are so many issues involved. I hope that there will be increased research and improved treatments. I resist the idea that we survivors are heroes. The focus should be on those less lucky.

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  • 1 month later...

I have recently joined this site and how nice to hear you have done so well... I have bac, so surgery is not a option. I had one surgery and they removed the right lower lobe and wedged out the right upper lobes, but one of the margins were not clear on the upper right lobe, but the rrest were and no lymph node involvement. I just had the surgery middle of nov of 08 and I will be getting a scan soon. My bac is multifocal and that means specs in the l ungs so that is why surgery will not really help. It is suppose to be very slow growing and its a watch and wait thing.

If I get any growth, the only thing that helps what I have is Tarceva, the pill you were on and I know it does not work long term, but chemo he feels does not work on bac.

I am so glad that your doing so well... its nice to know that some of us have beat this beast.


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