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Follow up with confirmed stage

Ann Cronin

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Good afternoon, all,

Had my follow up and got post surgery biopsy results. They found that one of the dozens of lymph nodes they took did come back positive. This makes me stage 3a. The lymph node was at the base of my esophagus. I'm bummed to be stage 3 - it had been thought that I was stage 2 - but I am very grateful that they got all the cancer.

That being said, I've been advised to go through chemotherapy - 4 sessions every 21 days just in case there is a stray cell or two floating around. They have also advised me to have radiation after chemo to sterilize the area where the positive lymph node was found.

Not looking forward to these treatments but I trust the professionals and will follow their advice. Their goal is to cure me of cancer, I'm on board with that! Mass General has been amazing, so grateful for the care I've received thus far. In spite of the stress, fear and crazy pain I am feeling full of gratitude. Grateful to have been born in a country with such amazing healthcare professionals. Grateful to have come down with pneumonia so this disease was caught perhaps in time to be cured. Grateful for this forum and all you wonderful people who listen, give advice and hope. 

Met with the oncology team at Mass General but going to have my treatment closer to home. I have an appointment today with my oncologist, I assume to discuss when chemo will begin etc. I will be posting updates and I'm sure will have questions! For some reason, today I don't have a bunch of questions...... I know I will soon enough!

As always... love you guys! :-)


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Wow....this sounds like my journey.  My cancer was found after an x ray for walking pnrumknia.  Initially, my stage was I b.  After surgery on 2/16, the surgeon at M D Anderson who removed the top right lobe and 12 lymph nodes...4 being cancerous...stated T2N2M0, Stage IIIa. It felt like a kick in my stomach.  The surgeon and oncologist said they see no cancer.  However, chemo was recommended to chase miniscule cancer that may be in my body. Chemo of Carboplatin and Atimta. ...3 hour sessions, every 3 weeks, 4 sessions. I have heard nothing about follow up radiation, but I go back to M D Anderson tomorrow. I have an appointment with a radiologist. I also see the oncologist who will finalize the chemo protocol and fax it to my local oncologist where I will have the chemo treatments.

What pain are you having?

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Sounds like your team is taking a great approach to your treatment.  I had similar treatment following my lobectomy, but didn't have radiation until my recurrence was found.  Now hoping that all is calm again and will scan next week to see.

Did you have the traditional lobectomy or VATS? I believe you've told us but I can't remember (yay for chemo side effects!).  I had a traditional lobectomy and had some pain for a couple of months after surgery.  Then three months after surgery, I started having spasms low in my chest - like a muscle spasm but it was taking my breath away.  Doc told me that was not unusual.  It was painful!  

Let us know how your treatment is going.

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Hi Susan,

I had the traditional, open lobectomy, unfortunately! Four weeks ago today and yes, still feeling the pain but not near what it was those first two weeks post surgery. There is SO much going on in regards to discomfort, numbness and pain. So many areas feel like internal road rash. Have bruising all over. Pulling and aches all over. The intermittent zings, jabs and spasms.... crazy!! 

They advised radiation because of the one lymph node containing cancer cells - out of the 28 nodes they took/tested. They are using radiation to sterilize the area.

I have a couple of questions, perhaps you or someone else reading this might have some insight...

First - My doctor said I can continue taking Advil while having treatment - all websites state to refrain from taking Advil while going through chemotherapy? I am depending on Advil due to post surgery pain...

Second -  I was prescribed Dexamethasone to be taken on days 2,3 & 4 of chemotherapy. The websites state that it should be taken BEFORE and after treatment??

I do have a teaching session Monday and I will ask these questions but would love to hear from you and others in this group.

I've seen a lot lately on "chemo-brain"...  how bad is it? Will I have issues at work?? I kind of depend on my memory lol

I pray your scans come back with nothing to discuss!! "Thank you, Lord, for Susan's complete healing!!"

Do keep us posted!



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Happy to learn of your surgical results.  I had a traditional lobectomy also and had pain symptoms not different from yours.  The pain and discomfort should resolve quickly.  Not happy at the lymph node discovery but post surgical chemotherapy bolstered by precision radiation are very effective ways of limiting the risk of recurrence.

Also glad you will be having post surgical treatments closer to home.  My view -- go to the big time hospital for surgery but have conventional chemotherapy and radiation close to home.  So, to your questions.

On Advil, I'd call the oncology nurse that support your oncologist and get a clarification on taking Advil and chemotherapy.  I've found the oncology nurses very available and good resources to ask questions about drug interactions.  They know their stuff.

The Dexamethasone script instructions are very odd.  In my experience, I had to take Dexamethasone 18, 12 and 6 hours before every infusion.  This again is a question I'd ask of the oncology nurse -- pronto.  It may be prescribed as an anti nausea med but I'd still get a clarification. 

Your post surgical chemotherapy will be a weak concentration.  While chemo-brain, hair loss and neuropathy are typical concerns, the weak stuff didn't effect me at all.  I didn't even lose my hair. 

Stay the course.


PS - Susan:  Clean Scans and Continued NED for you!  I'm hoping and praying!

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I think I already piped in on your chemo post. I also took the oral steroids on the 2 days before my chemo. And was told not to take Ibuprofen or that sort of pain killer during chemo. Not a problem for me since Ibuprofen causes my asthma to act up so I can't take it anyway. So, I'd definitely ask about those 2 things. 

Judy M. 

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My treatment plan is now outlined- carboplatin and Alimta, reduced due to my age (71) and having rheumatoid arthritis.  Doctor said possible side effects: nausea, fatigue, neuropathy...no hair loss.  Surprisingly, M D Anderson radiologist said 5 weeks, M-Friday radiation to follow chemo.   I had been yold no radiation two weeks earlier. The plan has been sent to my local oncologist to start chemo.

I had VATS six weeks ago. Pain has really lessened. I still take garboplatin, use Salon Pas patches (lidocaine) when I know I am going to have a big day, and extra strength tylenol as needed. I also use heating pads at times but you can't use it when wearing lidocaine patch...it pushes lidocaine through your system too quickly.

Ann-  I hope you find ways to relieve your pain. It helps with your healing.

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