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Recently diagnosed IIIB Lung cancer


Scott W

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Still trying to come to grip with all this, while being treated for Asthma my doc discovered a 1.3 cm x 1cm on my upper left lung in April of 2017. Doc said the nodule was too small to test and could be just scar tissue or anything. So we decided to wait a month and do another CT scan, second scan come back the same nothing had changed. Next scan was at 3 months and again no change. Had my six month scan in Jun 2018, size of the tumor had changed to 1.9cm x 1.2 and lymph nodes in the center and right, side were enlarged. Doc did a Bronchoscopy and says I have Stage III B non operable small cell  lung cancer.

Im scheduled to begin 6 weeks of radiation and Chemo beginning the 11th of Sep, and very nervous about the collateral damage to my heart and good lung and the hundreds of other potential side effects. Currently I have no symptoms, I feel great I'm a active 52 year old man in otherwise good shape.. I'm very nervous to start treatment, I fear I'll never feel this good again, and considering not taking treatments.  

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Had the very same symptoms and just finished the same treatment you are scheduled for I have twenty years on you and feel great now and sure glad I took the treatment .Started the follow up treatment yesterday and so far no complaints.

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Hi, Scott, and welcome!

Oh, don't even CONSIDER not getting treatment.  We have Stage IV survivors who have been around for 10+ years, and new treatments are coming along every day. Being young and otherwise healthy are both advantages in this situation.

Have you had a PET/CT scan?  I'm assuming that's what the IIIb diagnosis is based on.   If you'd care to tell us what kind of radiation and chemo are planned, folks here who have experience with similar treatment can give you an idea what to expect.  Everybody's experience is a bit different.  Some have relatively few side effects or long-term effects.  Are you being treated at a cancer center?  Do you know what type of cancer you have (adenocarcinoma, squamous cell, etc.)?  Have they done any testing for molecular markers that might make you a candidate for targeted therapy?

It's totally normal to feel scared and worried about cancer, treatments, etc.  But there are a lot of promising developments in treatment that were not available even a short time ago.

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Scott,

Hello fellow Washingtonian.  I understand your nervousness about starting treatment.  When my mom was initially diagnosed and it was suggested to have follow up chemo and radiation after her lobectomy, she was very nervous too (we all were). She was most nervous about the radiation, but after the first week of treatment, the nervousness was gone because the "unknown" was gone.  My mom fared very well with chemo and radiation - 12 weeks of it.  Side effects were either controlled or very mild.  Once she was able to get into her "rhythm" of treatment, it was not a big deal.  My mom was 61 years old at the time and has a myriad of other health issues.  Once the treatment was complete, docs proceeded with regular scanning.  

All types of lung cancer are very treatable nowadays.  For many, it's being treated as a chronic disease rather than a death sentence, even for stage 3 and 4 diagnoses.  The reality is that your life is going to change.  For my mom, some of those changes were for the better.  She has been forced to slow down (which I think is good at 64 years old), she can take joy in more things rather than just running from one thing to another.  She still does all of the things she enjoys (she's retired, so her list of hobbies is quite long!).  She lives her life everyday thankful for what she has (even my dad who can be a pain-in-the-butt sometimes!).  Yes she has some health troubles (most are unrelated to cancer), but that does not define who she is.  And lung cancer does not have to define who you are.  Yes there will be some uncomfortable times and some outright crappy times during this initial phase of treatment, but those are temporary.  My mom feels that the temporary negative effects are worth going thru to help her live a much longer life.

Hope some of this helps.  So sorry you are having to deal with cancer.

Take Care,

Steff

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Scott,

Welcome here.

I want to stress Steff's very important point: "all types of lung cancer are very treatable nowadays."  

I was 53 when diagnosed with Stage IIIB non small cell squamous cell lung cancer.  That was during the dark ages of lung cancer when few effective treatments existed.  I had a three year battle to achieve no evidence of disease.  It was not an easy battle.  There were side-effects and some of them were very hard to take.  But, this February, good Lord willing, I will celebrate 15 years of life after diagnosis. And it continues to be a wonderful life.  One of the most important side effects one encounters from cancer treatment is extended life.

Stay the course.

Tom

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Hi Scott! Welcome here!

I am also 52. I was initially diagnosed with 3B, NSCLC in Feb this year. I understand the initial fear of treatments. I totally felt the same way! I think I had a preconceived notion of how treatments would affect me. I imagined the worst. I think I watched too many movies! (Dang Fight Club- Chloe!)

I just finished chemo in June, and completed radiation 2 weeks ago. My last week of radiation I actually spent running around at the beach like a tourist! Go figure.

Have they mentioned any follow up treatments or so far just focusing on the chemoradiation? I haven't looked into targeted therapy and small cell lung cancer, but there are tons of new targeted therapy drugs coming out!  

Keep us updated...

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4 hours ago, LexieCat said:

Hi, Scott, and welcome!

Oh, don't even CONSIDER not getting treatment.  We have Stage IV survivors who have been around for 10+ years, and new treatments are coming along every day. Being young and otherwise healthy are both advantages in this situation.

Have you had a PET/CT scan?  I'm assuming that's what the IIIb diagnosis is based on.   If you'd care to tell us what kind of radiation and chemo are planned, folks here who have experience with similar treatment can give you an idea what to expect.  Everybody's experience is a bit different.  Some have relatively few side effects or long-term effects.  Are you being treated at a cancer center?  Do you know what type of cancer you have (adenocarcinoma, squamous cell, etc.)?  Have they done any testing for molecular markers that might make you a candidate for targeted therapy?

It's totally normal to feel scared and worried about cancer, treatments, etc.  But there are a lot of promising developments in treatment that were not available even a short time ago.

Thank you for the warm welcome, and advice. Lexi yes I did have a pet scan and CT scans. Docs say I have Adenocarcinoma cancer, and no I don't think there has been any molecular testing yet. I'm headed up to Seattle Cancer car alliance on Thursday for a second opinion I expect they will want to do another biopsy the first one did not provide enough cells for molecular testing. I have no idea what type of radiation or Chemo I'm scheduled to receive, heck didn't even know there were different types. 

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Yup, there are a few different types--more with regard to chemo and other drugs than radiation, but the point is there are options.  Some people tolerate one type better than another.  And that's great news because sometimes if side effects of one drug are a problem, another type can be tried instead.  There's a lot of info online, but here is a good starting point: https://lungevity.org/for-patients-caregivers/lung-cancer-101.  This is a great place to ask questions, and as you learn more and have more testing done, it will eventually start making more sense.  

Dealing with lung cancer is more of a marathon than a sprint, but the thing to remember is that it IS treatable even when it isn't curable.  You could be around for a very long time to come, with good quality of life.  As scary as the statistics sound, it's important to realize they represent AVERAGES--there's no reason to assume you won't be one of the people who responds beautifully to treatment.  Moreover, the stats represent cases diagnosed over five years ago.  There are many more treatments now, and there will continue to be new ones coming down the pike.  The longer you stick around, the longer you'll be likely to stick around.  

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Hi  Scott

Some info off the internet.

 

In stage IIIB, chemoradiation therapy is considered first line. Radiation therapy alone may be used if patients are concerned with the toxic effects of chemotherapy; however outcomes are better if both treatment modalities are used. In this stage of NSCLC, surgery is not considered a curative intervention or effective treatment and is rarely performed. Radiation therapy may be used for palliation of symptoms when tumor invades certain tissues and causes troublesome symptoms.

Chemotherapy is used to treat both limited and extensive SCLC. In limited disease, patients have been successfully treated with a single chemotherapeutic drug (when combined with radiation). In most cases though, two drugs are used rather than one. These two drugs are commonly a platinum drug and etoposide. In extensive SCLC, two chemotherapeutic drugs are used. The specific chemotherapeutic agents used in extensive SCLC vary.

In both NSCLC and SCLC, it may be possible to enroll in a clinical trial of lung cancer treatments. These trials usually compare new therapies against older ones to see if outcomes can be improved. Targeted therapies, radiosensitizers, internal radiation sources, and newer combination treatment regimens are just some of the treatment tools being tested in research and clinical studies. These new treatments may improve survival or may lead to future breakthroughs.

http://www.lung-cancer.com/treatment.html#nsclc

Bob

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