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All I know at this point is that I have lung cancer and I need a lobectomy,  probably within the next 1-2 weeks.   I'm 49.  I live in Minnesota, and it's dark and zero degrees.  I have bipolar disorder, and I'm as scared to death of getting depressed as anything, especially as I feel like it's already happening.  When I get truly get depressed, I don't feel like I will survive that, no less with cancer to boot.  I've been hospitalized multiple times in the past.  I'll be going in for surgery just about the time omicron is wiping out all the staff (I work at the hospital myself).  Visitors will be limited to one.  I'm single.  I have a son close by.  My daughter lives overseas and can't leave her country with any assurance of being let back in.  Completely cold relationship with parents...they're only comment has been "if you need someone to drop you off at the hospital."

Enough complaining, I suppose.   I've been pounding all that I'm grateful for and all that I'm fortunate about through my head, making lists of ways to keep occupied, reminding myself that I'm otherwise in great physical condition, compiling reading material, movies.  I still feel like hell, so thought I'd find people to talk to.  Strangely, the handful of people I've informed have all felt the need to tell me how lucky I am.  While I've been fortunate in many ways (and unfortunate in many others, like all of us), I feel like "lucky" is a bit of a stretch.  Makes me just want to keep it to myself and stay home.

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I'm sorry that you've gotten this diagnosis. Although it's a gloomy part of the year, it wouldn't matter if it were summertime, you'd still be feeling down after getting such news. 

When people tell you you're lucky to have gotten lung cancer, they truly don't understand what this disease is all about. None of us are lucky, we've gotten a raw deal. However, I now consider myself lucky to have survived my Stage IIIB diagnosis (and treatments) since October 2019, and at this point with No Evidence of Disease (NED). 

Having bipolar disorder, you may be more in tune with your mental health than most. If you have resources, use them. Depression is extremely common in lung cancer patients and their caregivers. You may actually need more support after your surgery. 

What your parents said to you sounds a lot like what my mother would have said to me. Never there when I needed her, she was too wrapped up in her own world.

I suggest that you look through this site, especially the surgery section. I couldn't have surgery myself but plenty of others have. Learn as much from us as you can so you can be best prepared. 

Complain to us all you want, we are here for rants, questions and support. You don't have to feel positive all the time. Give yourself permission for your feelings, they are normal. But if you find yourself unable to pull out of despair on your own, please seek help. 

I leave you with this thought:  when I was diagnosed, my primary doctor said that lung cancer is no longer a death sentence. At the time I didn't believe her but it has turned out to be true in my case. I hope you get excellent results from surgery. 

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Sue,

Welcome here. I want to reinforce Judy's PCP's message--lung cancer is no longer a death sentence.

To that point, I was diagnosed in February 2004, had a thoracotomy removing my right lung, had recovery complications from that surgery that led to 2 more in quick succession, had 3 stents installed and removed to bolster a weak area of my bronchus stump and trachea, had many doses of taxol and carboplatin (the only chemo available at that time), and had 2 kinds of radiation. I recite that litany to conclude that if I can live, so can you. To prepare you for surgery, I suggest you review Lou's tips and tricks for lung surgery here. These you'll find invaluable in preparation and recovery.

Strangely, your awareness of depression is a good thing. I was blind to it and thought I could soldier-on through my treatment mayhem without a single concern about mental health. Boy was that a mistake! Soon I found myself in intensive chemotherapy with full blown side effects and severely depressed. Depression is common with our disease. Seek mental health help early and often. Here is my insight on how to survive a lung cancer diagnosis.

Hospitals are discouraging or prohibiting visitors due to COVID but I want to stress the real benefit of joining this forum. You are no longer alone! We all understand what you are thinking and feeling. We can't be bedside but we have advise, tips and tricks that will help you though treatments to come. I've found when facing a future series of uncertain or unpleasant events that focus on the first event to the exclusion of those later on is helpful. Let's just get through the surgery. Lobectomies are frequently performed. Some surgeons use robotic techniques which minimize incisions and therefore ease recovery. Here is some information on lung cancer surgery. Read in particular at the right arrow (>) "What are the different types of surgery used in lung cancer."

You've just acquired lots of friends who have lots of information and insight about lung cancer and living large after diagnosis. You'll have questions. This is the place for those.

Stay the course.

Tom

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Sue,

Your feelings are all so normal.  The shock, confusion and even anger.  Yes, we don't deserve this disease, nobody does.  But then others don't deserve MS, Lukemia and a host of other diseases.  This is the disease we've got and luckily what Judy's doctor said is true; it's not the automatic death sentence it once was.  Tom is an great example of someone who has survived an amazing amount of time and is now considered cured.  This is pretty phenomenal when you realize he did not have all the treatments and medicines that are available today.

Let me share a few things with you:

1.  Don't go to Google to learn about survival rates.  The numbers there are running 5-year averages and don't take into account the improvements in treatments that have occurred recently.  You can get the most accurate data from your medical team.

2.  Make sure you have an Oncologist on your medical team.  My original medical team was the pulmonologist (who discovered the nodule) and the surgeon.  Even though my treatment was surgical I could have benefitted from an Oncologist on the team earlier.  But, luckily, after getting advise from my Lungevity family I did bring one on and it improved my treatment and follow up processes.

3.  Isolation is a hard thing, especially when you are dealing with any serious illness.  While (as Tom said) we can't be there with you we do have Zoom meetings during the week where you can join a group of survivors and others going through treatment and share and learn in real-time.  I've attached a PDF with the call links and schedules at the bottom of this post.
 

Last thing to remember... you are no longer alone (a point Tom made and I just want to make sure you heard it).  Ask questions as you go through this process and you'll find a supportive and knowledgable group here that will share their very varied experiences with you.  Stay in touch.

Lou

LUNGevity Zoom Links.pdf

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Sue,

The Zoom calls for Lungevity survivors and patients to meet are now held on:

  • Tuesday @ 12pm ET
  • Friday @ 6:30PM ET

In order to register for these meetings you'll need to joint the LUNGevity Virtual Meetings page on Facebook.  You apply, provide a bit of info and then you are approved, it is a fast process.  You can go to this page to join the page as well as see the post for the meetings and the registration links.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Lou

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Hi Sue and welcome here! You've gotten some great information from some of our forum all-stars. (Actually, we'e all stars here, I think). I had a lobectomy almost 6 years ago. I do feel lucky, in a strange way. My nodule was discovered in a routine CT scan to surveill for possible metastases from an earlier unrelated cancer which was advanced and aggressive. So I had a lobectomy by VATS (video assisted), was diagnosed with Stage 1 adenocarcinoma, and didn''t need further treatment, just followup. So I was lucky that my nodule wasn't a metastasis from my other cancer, which would have had a much worse prognosis, and also because my cancer was discovered at a very early stage and so was much easier to treat. My surgery was pretty easy (as sugeries go-- I guess no surgery with general anesthesia is a piece of cake). I have regular followup CTs and I've had No Evidence of Disease (NED) . My quality of life i good, although at 76 I'm beginning to "enjoy"  the aches and pains of old age. 

So there is life (and good life) after a lung cancer diagnosis. Hang in there, stay in touch, ask us whatever questions you want and lt us know how we can support you. That's what we're here for. Welcome to the family!

Bridget O.

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