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eric the red-my story

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Big Hello to my American Cousins,

Relax my name is not a statement of my political persuasion but a nickname one of my work colleagues gave

me years ago.My name is Eric Byrne I am Scottish, 60 years young,

married to Sally with a grown up daughter Jennifer,who is an actress(check out her web site in google,shes the one from Glasgow)

In October 2008 I developed a slight cough I also would find traces

of blood in my handkerchief after blowing my nose,I ignored this,but my

daughter, unknown to me made an appointment for me to attend my doctor,she found my chest a s clear as a bell,but just to please my daughter,she arranged

for me to have a chest x-ray.Following my x-ray,I was requested to

attend my doctors surgery,for feedback on my results,standard

procedure thought I,nothing to concern me.Entering the doctors surgery

he told me that my upper right lung had deflated,collapsed,totally

puzzled I enquired,what could cause this?Do you smoke? he asked.

No need for further conversation,I had been struck with a

thunderbolt,a thousand questions flooded into my brain,Lung Cancer ?

a death sentence ,why me? I didnt even smoke until my late twenties,

not even cigarettes,just small cigars of the mild variety.I looked at the

doctor,he was so relaxed, so at ease with himself,so lacking in empathy,

you would have thought he was talking to a turnip.He suggested further

tests,this may take some time,desparation creeping in on me,would going

private, speed things up I asked,yes he said but it could be expensive.

I drove home in a dream,broke the bad news to my wife and

daughter,I still had some hope that the tests may come up with some

less serious reason for my collapsed lung.Alas no,following my tests

my results confirmed I had a cancerous tumour in my upper right lung.

My treatment consisted of four cycles of neo-adjuvant chemotherapy ,a

cocktail they dont serve in any bar, called sysplatin and vinorobean,this

was fed into me intraveneously over a twelve hour period.Thanks to

the conversations I shared with other patients,this time passed quicky,

in fact I started to look forward to my chemo sessions.It always amazed

me,how many patients whose situation was worse than mine,are able

to look at the world and smile,when I compared myself to them,I always

came up short.

My wife worked full time,and would leave me some household chores to do,it was not enough to fill my day,I did go for walks,but I

was missing human company,Ineed to get back to work,so I went to

my doctor tell him my intentions,he asked me if my work is being covered,yes I replied,well let them get on with it and spend some

quality time with your wife,since you only have two years left(better get on with this letter)he added he had one prior patient who survived five years with lung cancer,what a character,but you are not him .When I recounted this to my oncologist,he was visibly shocked and said why would your doctor say this ,there are sometimes I despair for my

medical colleagues.

I sailed through the chemo without any side effects,not even

nausea.Feedback from my oncologist,that in all his years dealing with

lung cancer he had never seen such shrinkage in a tumour,and that

after only two cycles,he confirmed my suitability for sugery.

Dr Lumsden then went on to tell me that another hot spot

was identified by my pet scan,it was in my bowel,probably innocuous

he said,dont worry about it we will deal with this after your operation

in January 2009.However unknown to him,I was requested to attend

hospital on 23rd December for a colonoscapy,following the procedure

the doctor leaned over me and announced I cancer of the bowel.Panic,

that cannot be true my oncologist said lung cancer dosnt spread to the bowel,unless its another primary,well thats true but you do have another

primary its rare but it does happen,I will not operate on you until I am

convinced your lung operation was successful,I dont want to waste my

time.I left the hospital in a cloud,myself and family spent the worst Christmas you ever you could imagine.Early in January I received news

from the hospital that my bowel biopsy showed no cancer cells.Boy did

that cheer me up and in good time for my operation.

The operation was deemed successful,the surgeon did not

remove all my lung,just less than half, also one nearest lymph node.

My lung nurse came to my home a explained to me how the operation went ,to my wifes horror I asked her about buying a new

pair of black shoes,was it worth it in view of the time I have left.Eric

she said,I expect to come back in ten years to visit you.

The hospital requested my appearance with the bowel

surgeon,who described his intention to open me up on my left side

cut my bowel either side of the polyp remove it and rejoin my bowel,

if the cancer has sread he may have to exercise more of the bowel.

I woke after the operation,to feel my left side,nothing! no dressings?

surgeon arrives to tell me he was able to exercise my polyp from my

back passage,and how lucky I was,it was the size of a golf ball and if

left for anthor year I would have probably killed me.Thanks to my

lung cancer and having that pet scan-who knows?.Subsequent

tests of my polyp confirmed it was the most benign of the benign.

I returned to my work in March 2009,as a Senior Lecturer

in Design and Construction in a College of Further Education.On

arriving in my classroom my third year students were present and

asked me if have returned,I said Iam back for good,they burst into

a round of applause,which I can still hear to-day.

I am now back at work almost a year,I am blessed with good

health,and hoping to prove to my doubting doctor I am staying put

not for two years or five years,I think Ill stay for twenty, god willing.

Thank you if youve read this far,

Kind Regards,

Eric Byrne.

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It always amazed me how many patients whose situation was worse than mine are able to look at the world and smile...when I compared myself to them, I always came up short.

Many of us have had the same feeling.

Welcome to LCSC, Eric, and congratulations on your success! Now, could you do us one more favor? Watch the board for new members and give them a note of encouragement as they begin their own cancer journey. You can create a link to your story in a "profile" that will automatically attach to every message you post, something I and others have done. Your link would be:

http://lungevity.org/l_community/viewto ... highlight=

Best wishes and Aloha,


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All guys posting before me. Interesting lol. Eric I did read every word all the way to the end. All our stories are similar and unique at the same time. Unfortunately, the crass physician who suggested you had little time is not that unusual. Fortunately for you and most of us, there is a compasionate one to balance it out. Congratulations on the success of your journey. I love Ned's suggestion to share it with new people who come on board. Most of the time, dx'd with cancer or caretakers of loved ones with cancer, they come looking for hope. That's what keeps oldtimer survivors posting on the site, to offer hope.


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Fantastic story Eric. I had a doctor that told me that there was not much that could be done for me. I fired her! My oncologist, radiologist and surgeon were wonderful. July 1st will be the five year annivrsary of my surgery and by the Grace of God I have had clean scans since. I taught high school history, it was wonderful to get back to my students. I have since retired as I had always planned, after 35 years of teaching. You just keep on keeping on!!!


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Eric - Thank you so much for sharing your story - it was filled with such truths about how this journey has gone for many of us - the "did you smoke" question that hit like a knife, the doctor who talks to us with such a lack of empathy he might as well be talking to "a turnip" (I loved that line!) and the worst - the doctor giving us an expiration date.

AND, it has a great ending - good health!

I agree with Ned, your story will be such a great help and hope for other newcomers to this board - it gave me a much needed smile this morning and a renewed sense that we CAN beat this!

Wishing you peace and many many more years of good health -


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  • 1 month later...
  • 7 months later...

Wow Eric, I had not read your story until just now, saw it after reading Tony's post. You are certainly an inspiration, as is everyone here, but for your doctor to have actually said that to you and yet you are prevailing is an inspiration to us all. So glad to be on this forum and see all of you, I am also on cancergrace and I can't think of any better places to get support right now.

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  • 2 months later...

It is nice to see your success story of the life. Hope all the people who have lost there confidence and hope must read this and try to fight as much as they can. I am so happy after studying your success stories. Thank you for sharing it.

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