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Could be worse I guess, but a cautionary tale


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This is going to be long-winded, but this story might help someone in one way or another, so here goes:

Around the time of my CT scan on Dec. 12, I wasn't feeling very optimistic. I had a slight cold. I was having some added shortness of breath and pain in my right chest/side. But, I resolved not to jump the gun getting radiologist's report right away, and to wait until I could get the doctor's word. (I have previously made myself nuts getting reports that I didn't completely understand, waiting on doc's interpretations which were always better than my layperson's understanding.)

On Dec. 18, I went to the onc's office to get a new pain scrip, and asked the nurse to have a doc call me (regular onc was on vacation) to tell me about my CT scan. I told her I wasn't feeling great--though not awful--and was afraid the cancer was progressing again. I just wanted to know one way or another.

Alterna-doc called and said scan showed "very slight" progression, that shouldn't account for new symptoms. That made me feel better. I told him I was recovering from a cold but no fever, and he agreed that might just be the problem. I went ahead withh my annual blow-out holiday party on Dec. 20, surrounded by 40 family members and friends, but this year they did all the cooking and most of the clean-up. :wink:

The night before Christmas Eve, regular onc calls at 7 p.m. out of the blue. He's just returned from vacation, and is catching up on his patients and their files. He disagrees that progression is "slight," but doesn't elaborate. Wants to see me before New Year's Day, and says he now wants to try another chemo regimen before Iressa, starting soon. Oh, great.

Meanwhile, I'm not feeling any better, although I felt pretty great on Christmas Day itself and had a lovely holiday with family and friends. At this point I'm taking at least some pain meds every day, which I haven't done in months. Then the weekend hit, the coughing really started, including prodigious amounts of yukky stuff and sharp chest pains. Uh oh.

Go for chest x-ray Monday, doc says go home, he'll see me at appointment scheduled for next morning. By Tuesday morning I actually feel better than I had over the weekend, but onc is not happy. Phone consultation with pulmo and I'm admitted to hospital. Happy New Year! :x

Like I said, it could have been much worse. Yes, I had (still have) pneumonia. But Tuesday the doctors were talking bronchoscopy, and possible stent insertion in my airways. However, another CT scan done Tuesday night showed *no* airway obstructions and *no *possible need for a bronch, either. Just some IV antibiotics and rest.

I spent 3 nights in the hospital including New Year's Eve and Day, but they let me out Friday with oral antibiotics and a promise I'd call immediately if symptoms worsened again. They haven't, thank God. I feel a little better every day.

I'm seeing the pulmo on Tuesday, and probably the onc too. I'll finally get more info on what the cancer is actually doing, the rationale for more chemo (possibly Gemzar with CPT-11), and make the appointments to start this new round of treatment.

The moral of this story is don't ignore symptom changes! I was actually watching out for pneumonia, but didn't act quickly because I never had a fever. Bad idea! I will be more diligent in the future.

As an aside, I was very pleasantly surprised by the cancer floors at my hospital (Robert Wood Johnson in New Brunswick, NJ). All the rooms are private, with TV, VCR, CD player and personal refrigerator! Visiting hours are 24/7! And all the personnel were fabulous--kind, compassionate, knowledgable and friendly. This makes me feel better about any future hospitalizations that could be required.

Happy New Year everyone!


PS: I'll be posting a new picture with my boot-camp hairdo when I get a chance, before I lose it all again. :lol:

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Thanks for posting Barbara. I signed on just now with the intention of posting almost the identical post. I have felt terrible all day. I have been hurting some in the chest area also. I am scheduled to have some test tomorrow so I am going to try to tough it out till then. No sence in getting x-ray tonight and another tomorrow. I have been coughing quite a bit today and yesterday. I have not had a cough in 6 mo now.


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Call your onc's office now--someone is always on-call. They'll probably send you to the emergency room today and you'll get admitted. There are worse things that could happen!

I'm sure the ER will do the x-ray, and they won't do another tomorrow unless they think there is dramatic change one way or another in less than a day. Don't screw around with this!

Warmest wishes...I don't mean to be harsh...hope it didn't come out any way except CONCERNED.


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Hey Barb,

Good to hear from you, was gettin a bit worried bout you, :?:?

So very sorry to hear of your setback, but sounds like things are getting back on track with ya!! :) We do what we have to to fight this son of a ___ch. :x Looking forward to the new pic??

Like you, I've been having to listen to the body, they picked up 2 new friends in my head, couple of small lesions that were driving me nuts. So guess were both in for the fight again!! :x I'm going for a PET in the AM and probable stereotactic radiosurgery in a week or two.

hang in and keep us updated and know you'll be in my thoughts and prayers.

God bless!

Bobmc- NSCLC- stageIIB- left pneumonectomy- 5/2/01

MRI's taken 12/18/03 - 2 brain mets found- named em Frick & Frack

"Absolutely insist on enjoying life today!"

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Glad to hear you are back on your feet!

I've had a cough and feeling of congestion in my throat for the last week, went to the doctor last Monday and he gave me antibiodics and cough medicine. The antibiodics are almost gone, and I spent the entire day coughing today which terrifies me because like Bruce, I really havent' had a cough in over 6 months.

Tonight I feel slightly feverish and was thinking about calling the doc tomorrow again. After reading your post, I think that I will for sure. He took an xray last week, but since I haven't improved much, feel the need to stay on top of this.

Again, glad you are doing better and were able to enjoy your holidays anyway even with everything going on! Thanks for posting... I definitely am going to follow up on myself tomorrow.

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