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TAnn's Story

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My life had become hectic to say the least. We moved into a new house in August of 2002, just before the start of the new school year. It was the beginning of my son's junior year of high school and the change in schools was harder for him than we thought it would be. I found myself battling him in the mornings and usually leaving late to get him to school on my way to work. My drive time had increased from 5 minutes to over 1 hour (one-way). Then working all day and driving home for another hour, just to get back in the car to get him to soccer practice, dinner, laundry, etc. Nothing unusual, just the life of a typical mom!

I started having pains on the right side of my chest and a cough that would not go away. The pain was really noticeable when I would cough, sneeze, or even cheer at the soccer games. It was also bothersome when I slept. I thought maybe I just needed a new pillow. Of course I ignored it for a while, being too busy to really think about it. My husband finally insisted that I make a doctor appointment when he witnessed me sneezing and almost falling to my knees in pain.

It had been a while since I had a physical. I made an appointment with a family doctor that I had never been to before. This was in February of 2003. She did the usual work-up and included an EKG and chest x-ray since I was (gasp) 40. All the tests and bloodwork came back normal. The chest x-ray came back with a very tiny nodule in the lower right lobe. She had me repeat the x-ray for 2 more months, with every x-ray coming back unchanged.

I was feeling very tired. When she told me that everything checked out ok, and I was "young and healthy and did not smoke" that I would be just fine. Probably just stress.

Thank goodness I listened to that inner voice that said something wasn't quite right. I made at least 3 more appointments with this doctor and told her that I was more tired than I should be and the pain was not going away. She said, "well you have a bit of pleuracy". It will go away on it's own. Well I didn't know what Pleuracy was, and when I questioned her about it she explained that it was caused by something irritating the lung, like bronchitis, tb, pneumonia, lupus or cancer. Her exact words that I will never forget were, "You don't have tb, you don't have pneumonia, you don't have lupus, but I can test you for it if you want, and YOU DEFINATELY DO NOT HAVE CANCER!" "But, since there is nothing more that I can do for you, I'll refer you to a pulmonologist".

By now it was April, 2003. I got my appointment with the pulm. the next week and he immediately noticed something at the top of my right lung on the x-ray that the other doctor and radiologist did not notice on 3 x-rays. Of course he thought it was a pneumothorax (sp) since I was "Young and a non-smoker and otherwise healthy". But to be on the safe side, he ordered a CT scan and also did a TB test. He was reading the results of the CT scan for the first time when I went in for the results. He read the results out loud and when it said "mass" in the upper right lobe, he must have read it 3 times out loud, with disbelief in his voice. He also told me that I had a "small" pleural effusion. This is what I knew as pleuracy. He wanted to immediately do a thorencenthesis on the fluid and he ordered another TB test. I had the fluid draw on April 9th. They said they would have the results in 5 to 7 days. Needless to say, the TB tests came back normal!

April 10, 2003, at about 9:30 pm we got the call. The fluid came back with cancer cells. My pulm. was in total shock. He gave me the name of an oncologist who ran more tests and the results came back: NSCLC, Adenocarcinoma of the right lung, 3cm tumor, with malignant pleural effusion, Stage IIIB.

That "Freight Train" called my life just came to a screeching halt. We got a referral to MD Anderson. I liked my thoracic oncologist right away. He started me on Taxol/Carbo in May, 2003. Had 5 rounds, blood counts were too low to do the recommended 6 rounds. The tumor did not shrink, but did not grow. I went on a "chemo break", but it did not last. In November, 2003 the tumor showed growth. I started a clinical trial, ZD-6474 with taxotere. (Double blind, did not if I was getting the drug or not)

Also did 5 rounds of Taxotere, was hospitalized with high fever and low counts. Continued taking the trial pill. After the 4th treatment, tumor shrank 31%. Yea. Went from 2.9cm to 1.8cm.

May, 2004, tumor showed growth. Back up to 2.2cm. I am currently trying Iressa. Have been on it 1 month and am tolerating it very well. Was well enough to attend and enjoy my son's graduation and all the family from out of town. That was my first goal. I am so glad I met


My next CT scan is the first week in July. I am hoping that it is good news. I'd like to be one of the ones that Iressa works on......

In the meantime, I continue to pray and would not have been able to cope if not for the wonderful people on this site. I will continue to pray for us all......


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