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A New Start

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I know that there are people that have lung cancer that do not smoke, my story does include smoking. I know that smoking contributed to my lung cancer, but it confuses me that I got lung cancer and 9 other smokers didn’t. Why was I #10, what is with me that I ended up with lung cancer? If I didn’t smoke, would I have gotten cancer somewhere else?? Was this cancer gene in my body waiting to settle somewhere that was weakened? OH well..maybe one day we will know.

I was the child of an alcoholic, a fearful kid, afraid of everything.. afraid of getting on the bus, of going to school, of coming home from school, what have you. I always wanted to fit in but always felt like the outsider, like I never quite fit anywhere. When I was around 13, I would wait for my mother to leave the house (this was the 60s, sometimes I would have to wait a week she never went anywhere!) and go out on the back porch with one of her Pall Malls that I had stolen from her pack to practice smoking. In my junior high mind, this was the one thing that would help me to fit in, most of the kids smoked- at least the "cool" ones did. The high school even had a Senior Smoking Lounge. I shed a lot of weight during high school, took up drinking, drugs, boys and of course, learned how to smoke properly. I remember one day when I was 15, 2 new found friends and myself sat at one of the outside tables of McDonalds and they taught me how to inhale. The first time the smoke actually hit my lungs I remember coughing my head off, trying to suck in air so I could breathe. Call me crazy, but I think my body was trying to tell me something! :roll:

I got married at 20, had my daughter at 21 and when I was 25, I entered a rehab for alcohol. EVERYBODY there smoked. In the years after rehab, I attended many an AA room in a church basement filled with so much smoke you could hardly see the speaker at times. And like my friend DavidA, smoking was something that was encouraged to quit down the line maybe but not YET because my immediate killer was alcohol and/or drugs. After all, only 1 out of 38 people stayed sober, not exactly great odds. As it turned out, smoking would be probably the hardest addiction to kick.

When I was in my 30s I went to a new doctor for a check up. I was terrified because he took a chest xray and I remember waiting for days for the result. My way of approaching things was normally to stay in a state of denial, if I didn’t HAVE a chest xray, there wouldn’t be anything wrong. Anyway, the xray was clear but I will never forget what he said. He told me that if he had seen just a tiny dot on the xray, it would be lung cancer and I would be gone within 6 months. That was my only dealing with lung cancer before I was diagnosed.. the idea that if I ever had it, it would be fatal. I solved THAT problem by avoiding xrays of course.

At 41 I had everything I ever wanted, the material possessions I had so craved in my early single mother days (yes, I divorced my daughter's father after I sobered up!), a great job. I also lived with a psychopath, one in a line of many in my life (that would be a different website :wink: ). One day I woke up, couldn’t get in the shower, had no motivation to do anything but sit and stare. I was diagnosed with severe depression and pretty much told by the psychiatrist that I needed to leave all my pretty things if I wanted to get my mind back. After 6 months of the prescription for Prosaic getting stronger and stronger and my depression growing into a total inability to walk outside the house, I somehow found the strength to leave. I left New York because I was terrified of my soon to be ex, and figured if anytime a fresh start was needed, it was then. So once again in my life, I had to start over. It was difficult to walk away from everything I had worked so hard for, more difficult to learn the humility of having nothing again.

Well, here I am in Oklahoma, 6 years later with a 5 year old silly son and lung cancer. I went to my doctor in January of 2003 because I was feeling tired. He took a chest xray for some reason unknown to me and found a shadow on my right upper lobe. I had a CT and a Pet Scan and neither one was conclusive of what I had, other than an 11 mm nodule. They suggested I go back 2 months later and when I did, it had grown. I went to a Pulmonary Specialist I didn’t like who wanted to do a bronchoscopy that I found out later, I didn’t need. I ran from him and fought like hell with my insurance company to get where I wanted to go for treatment. This took full days on the phone and a couple weeks for resolution but I won. I did not come to this life to die from inadequate medical care and I refused to accept no from my insurance company. If I had one thing that I wanted to make sure that people realize, it is don't just take what your insurance company or doctor says as the law. FIGHT IF YOU NEED TO!!

I just passed the year mark from my surgery and not smoking. The surgery wasn’t exactly a picnic, but it was doable. They took out my upper lobe, and then my middle lobe not because there was cancer found, but because it wasn’t operating properly once they removed the upper lobe. All my nodes and tissue were clear, it was just the nodule itself which was cancerous. A year later, I still have discomfort on my side and under my right breast but other than that, I am physically okay and mentally I guess I am okay also. I have shared before, there are days sometimes now where I actually forget that I had lung cancer and that it is just a phone call away from being back. This is amazing to me after many sleepless nights and my fear of making long term plans.

This board is both a blessing and a curse for me. I always come here and read it, but don’t always find the words to post. On one hand I don’t want the reminders, on the other hand, I can’t not come here, I would feel like I was deserting. I have met so many good people on here and some who I couldn't imagine living my lifetime without meeting. I have had hours of fun with my chat buddies on Tuesdays. Who would think that you would come to a lung cancer board and laugh? Humour has always made life so much easier for me...

I guess that's pretty much my story.. I didn't want to just write about my lung cancer because to borrow the words of someone smarter than me, my life has not just been defined by lung cancer... Thank you all for being here to help me feel welcome when I so needed you the most and for continuing to do so every day...

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