November is dedicated to bringing awareness to the hardest hitting cancers of the body, like lung cancer. Lung cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide, with over 1.8 million new cases each year. There are two main types of lung cancer – small cell and non-small cell lung cancers. Classification can be determined by taking an indepth look at tumors through a microscope.
The most common type of lung cancer is non-small cell lung cancer with over 85% of lung cancer diagnosis being in this category. Small cell lung cancer tends to spread much more quickly, so it is important to be on the lookout for symptoms and be diagnosed as early as possible for a better chance of survival. Over 49% of diagnoses that are caught early on survive for five years or longer. This is one woman’s battle with lung cancer.
“All I was worried about was planning my anniversary party.”
Meet Linda, a woman who was planning her anniversary party when she received the news she had stage III lung cancer.
“It started with my voice. It became weaker, and I would get really raspy and cough a lot. I also started to experience pain on my upper back. I had muscle spasms and was given a prescription for muscle relaxers. Eventually, I began to lose sensation in my right hand. After going to several different doctors, I felt like I was getting the runaround. I finally asked for a chest X-ray. The X-ray showed I had a “density” on my right lung and I was promptly scheduled for a CT scan. I was on the phone the next morning trying to get the results. The scan showed a mass the size of a quarter. Lung cancer. I knew the symptoms because my Dad died of cancer, but I didn’t want to believe it.
I met with a thoracic surgeon and went in for an evaluation. The evaluation took 3 days and I was told what to expect. I met with many doctors and we created a game plan. I had hope. My PET scan revealed that the cancer had not spread, and I started undergoing radiation treatments at University Cancer Centers. They made me sick, I lost my hair, and my immune system was off, at times it felt like the pain would never end. Once chemo kicked in and the tumor became smaller, I was in much less pain. I wasn’t able to have surgery to remove the tumor, but was prescribed another chemo regiment with a different drug. With the new regiment I was able to undergo another scan and there was great news – only scar tissue remained.
I was finally able to relax and enjoy life. I was sick and undergoing chemo during my actual anniversary, but my family and friends got together to throw my husband and I a belated celebration. It was the most beautiful party and I was thankful that I was able to experience it.