Tag Archives: continuing to work after a diagnosis with lung cancer

Nancy

Yet another guest post from INSPIRE, Nancy also urges others to be their own health care advocates and to not shy away from second opinions:

DSCN0658My name is Nancy. I am 55 years old. I have always lead an active life. And…I still do! I enjoy golfing, reading, reality TV, classic rock, and keeping my pet rats, (I have 6), loving cats, listening to my beautiful red factor canary sing, and working full time as a perioperative assistant for the OR in a busy hospital.

My nightmare began over 6 years ago. I got very sick and ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. I ran a high fever, and was extremely ill. The ER doc told me after a CT scan, that there was a spot on my lung. They did not quite know what it was, so they put me in isolation to rule out TB., which I tested negative for. I was taken out of isolation and before I went home, I asked my family doctor if I should get a lung biopsy, did I have cancer? I was told, no, it was only a pus pocket. I took his word that I was OK, and went back to my life. I forgot about it. Time went by, and I became a pretty healthy woman again.

Then, two summers ago, I became ill with bronchitis. I was treated with numerous antibiotics and it kept coming back. To my shock and horror, a random x-ray found a mass in my right lower lung. I was totally blindsided when I found out the mass was in the exact same area as the spot from 6 years earlier. I was diagnosed with NSCLC adenocarcinoma on September 27, 2011. The same day of my biopsy, I went to the family doctor who misdiagnosed me. He asked me how I was. I told him “not too bad considering I just had a lung biopsy”. Then I let him have it with both barrels…needless to say, he is no longer my doctor!

I had my right lower lobe removed via VATS on October 23, 2011. I am stage 1B. I began 4 rounds of cisplatin-alimta in January, 2012 and finished in March of 2012. I went back to work that April. While I was home during my treatment, I set goals for myself. I was determined to go back to work and not let cancer take over my life. I admit to having scanxiety during scan times…but, I just had my latest scan and I am NED (no evidence of ┬ádisease) and have been for 13 months now. Happy dance!

I am a non-smoker. But, I was working in bowling alleys for over 20 years when I was younger and breathed in secondhand cigarette smoke. Did this cause my illness? I think it is a big part of what happened to me, along with the fact that I live in an industrial area, near several auto plants in a suburb of Detroit. Cancer also runs in my family, so it may be genetics.

I take life day by day and know that every day is a gift. I do not really believe that cancer happens for a reason. I feel that part of it is just plain old lousy luck. But I can say, I have begun some wonderful friendships since I was diagnosed. I have done things I would have never thought I would have done including learning to draw blood and also changing jobs completely. No one in my new department knows that I have lung cancer. I am keeping a huge secret, but I am also giving myself a chance to be just one of them and to just be ME. No one to feel sorry for me, no one to look at me and think she has IT. I say never ever give up, fight with everything you have…Be strong, stay busy and focus on your life.. And, most of all, be your own health advocate. Never, ever blindly trust something a doctor says. Get copies of your records, and get other opinions.

Nancy