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Deb W

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Hi everyone - I am happy to have found this forum. Everything happened so fast. I thought of myself as living a healthy lifestyle.  I regularly exercise and eat healthfully. I’m here today because of early detection. In January I had flu-like symptoms and went to my PCP.  She prescribed antibiotics for a sinus infection.  I finished the antibiotic in 10 days and returned for my annual check-up still feeling fatigued and not fully over the flu.  My PCP said to be patient, as sometimes it takes a little longer than 10 days to feel better.  I had another problem with my right mid back muscle that had been aching for 3 months.  I didn’t think too much about it because I assumed I pulled a muscle playing tennis. My PCP sent me for a chest x-ray.  She said everything was o.k. on the right side, but on the left side there was a nodule.  I went for a CT scan and was then referred to a thoracic surgeon for a consult.  He thought it was probably inflamed from an old infection, but because of my family history of cancer he ordered a PET scan. I then had a bronchoscopy and biopsy.   The pulmonologist said everything he swiped looked negative and he didn’t think I had cancer.  So, I went about my life and continued working, playing tennis and exercising. Five days later the results came in and the thoracic surgeon called to let me know it was cancer.  I was devastated. How could this be?  I had no symptoms! It turned out to be Stage 1B lung cancer.  I realize now that I was one of the lucky ones because I could have surgery to remove it. The surgeon’s plan was to do robotic surgery, take 1/3 of the lung and go after another tiny nodule further down on the lower left lobe. I went for a 2nd opinion. This surgeon said she would take ½ of the lung and leave the small area on the lower left lobe alone.  Now I had 2 different opinions creating more stress.  I knew very little about lung cancer so I was reading a lot to educate myself.  I decided to go with the first surgeon and I’m so glad I did.  I had the surgery March 22 and 1/3 of my upper left lobe was removed.  I also had a tiny spot on the left lower lobe and a wedge resection was done. The worry was that if this were the same cancer that spread my course of treatment would be different. It turned out to be in stitu or Stage 0. Because the cancer was diagnosed early – stage 1b, and no lymph nodes were involved; I didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation treatment.  If I didn’t mention that pain in my back at my annual check-up, I wouldn’t have had the x-ray. I’ve learned that lung cancer is the number 1 killer of all cancers yet it is the least funded.  Over the past 40 years lung cancer has gone down by 35% for men but for women it has gone up 87%...alarming! If you have lungs…you’re at risk!

 

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Welcome Deb. I am happy to hear you had a very successful surgery and no further treatment was needed!  You are right, if you have lungs, you can get lung cancer!  

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Deb,

Sounds like you made all the right decisions and your early diagnosis allowed for effective treatment. I hope you consult with an oncologist so you can have regular monitoring.  This is important because lung cancer, even early stage, has a tendency to recur. But, congratulations on achieving NED -- no evidence of disease.

Stay the course.

Tom

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Tom:  I asked my thoracic surgeon if I needed an oncologist.  He said all that was needed was a CT scan every 6 months and he would keep an eye on it.  Do people usually get checked more often than that?   I've been spending a lot of time researching lung cancer but realize there's so much more to learn.  It's only been a month since surgery, but the fatigue is starting to get to me.  I have a been reading about recurrence which feels like a dark cloud and I tell myself to readjust my thinking.  Sometimes it works.  I'm still not thinking of myself as having cancer...maybe because when I allow myself to think about it ...it requires a change of thinking...as in present moment.

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Deb,

Theoretically, any doctor can monitor. I would think a thoracic surgeon would be too busy and perhaps too expensive for a health insurance claim for regular monitoring. 

A CT scan every six months is reasonable but I would engage an oncologist. Why? They are the experts in diagnosis and treatment of cancer, a disease you have or hopefully had. 

Stay the course. 

Tom

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Hi there Deb-

Welcome to your new best friends!  I’m so happy you are one of the lucky early finds.  We all get the fatigue.  My sense is that your energy levels will increase over time.  Meanwhile you might want to consider restorative yoga (helps with the breathing) and acupuncture to help restore energy.  Hope this helps!

Michelle

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Hi Michelle,

Thanks for your message.  Great suggestion with regard to restorative yoga.  I'm just wondering if I should wait til the pain is gone from surgery.  But, maybe it's scar tissue that needs to be broken up through movement?   I realize I took my strength and stamina for granted in the past.  I'm still testing my energy levels - sometimes I go to far and I have to lay down.   I returned to work yesterday, but I'm only working 4 hours a day.  When I get home I just lay down...Debbie

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Hi Debbie,

Since you just had surgery so recently, it can take awhile for you to regain strength and energy. I would add back in regular walks and/or exercise as you can. You can increase it a little bit each day. Let me know if you have any other questions.

 

Ro

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Hi @Deb W.  I had an upper right lobe lobectomy two months ago.  A similar story to your.  I would describe my fatigue at clinically tired after surgery.  That last for about six weeks.  It’s better now though I sleep about an hour more a night and morning are tougher to get up.  I’ve always been a morning person, but its been tougher to get up post surgery.  

You’ve found a great place to connect with others.  

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HI Deb and welcome. I also had an early stage lung cancer (1a) and needed only surgery. That was 2-1/2 years ago and I'm doing well today. I've had CTs every 6th months but now am going to annually. Rest when you need to! A month is pretty fast to be back to work. Any surgery takes a lot out of you and being tired for a while is pretty normal.  An alternative to an oncologist would be a pulmonologist. Mine was really able to tell a lot from my CTs.

BridgetO

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Hi, and welcome.

I had the same diagnosis (Stage Ib), had an upper left lobectomy almost two years ago, and have been following with scans every six months.  Assuming my scan in June is good, they will drop back to annual.  

Getting tired faster is par for the course at this stage, but you should notice little/no effect from the surgery within a few months at most.  

I loved my surgeon so much I would have loved to followup with him, and he would have done it if I'd asked, but his suggestion was that, since any recurrence would involve chemo, rather than surgery, it might make more sense to be followed by an oncologist.  As Bridget says, a pulmonologist could probably do the job, too, but an oncologist is a cancer specialist.  Hopefully you will never need any further treatment, but if you do, you will have already established a relationship with an oncologist you like.  That right there might suggest it's worthwhile.  

Glad you found us--you should be back to your old self very soon.

Oh, and don't discount that healthy lifestyle--that alone doesn't prevent cancer (as you've learned) but it definitely helps with recovery--and having a healthy life afterward.

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So glad I found this group.  Thanks so much for your advice.  Maybe the reason the surgeon said to follow up with him was because they have a multidisciplinary team that meets weekly and the oncologist is on the team so he/she would be looking at my scans.  Thanks for the warm welcome...thankful to  be on this forum🤗

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Hi Deb, I'm italian what is it your family Story of cancer? Are you a smoker? Thanks and kiss every One

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Hi Ale,

I have a family history of cancer.  Two brothers died of cancer one at 53 and the other at 60.  One was a smoker and I'm not certain where their cancers originated.   One sister died at 59 of lung cancer (smoker).  Two sisters are living 67 and 72 neither has had cancer.  I am 63 and not a smoker.

 

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