CancerGuide: Inspirational Patient Stories
I have always been fit as a fiddle! Other than the normal flu or virus, I have been as healthy as the next person. That is until I hit middle age. I was a smoker, over 40 years, and my smoking began taking its toll.
I suffered an acute bout of bronchitis. However, I recovered quickly and spent only 2 days in the hospital. I continued to smoke!
Thirteen years after my initial bout of bronchitis I again suffered with it. Only this time I was required to stay in the hospital for one week. When you constantly wheeze, have no energy, and have trouble breathing, you don't need to be a rocket scientist to realize, "It's time to quit smoking!". This time I did quit. Along with other tests, x-rays were taken of my lungs and according to two doctors, I had dodged the bullet and was cancer free. Hearing this was such a relief that my legs went weak. I said a prayer of thanksgiving and made a commitment to myself to make some significant changes in my life.
I committed to living a more healthy life-style in regards to diet, exercise, nutritional supplementation and of course, proudly becoming a non-smoker. As a result, I began to feel like a million dollars, both physically and mentally. Coupled with this was a wonderful sense of well being. I had my life under control. Wrong!
I honestly couldn't put my finger on a particular problem. All I knew was I didn't feel 100%. I attributed it to having had gum surgery in November and that my system wasn't back to normal. I also had a vertebrae out of whack, due to golfing, and I thought this could be another cause. I sincerely didn't know what was wrong, I just knew something wasn't normal. I came home one afternoon, after seeing my chiropractor for the vertebrae problem, and coughed up blood. When I look back now, I consider this event a blessing.
Thus began many doctor appointments, tests, waiting for results, more tests, more waiting. My emotions, and those of my husband, Tom, were absolutely ragged. The waiting ended and the tests confirmed that I had stage 1 non small cell lung cancer. The week following my diagnosis is a blur. I would have severe panic attacks that were calmed only with back rubs from Tom. The difficult job of telling our respective families was left up to Tom, plus most of the decision making. I was numb. I had lost my twin sister to colon cancer two years earlier and all I could think of was, "I don't want to die!" Looking back however, I am grateful, and consider the "coughing up blood episode", as a blessing. Had this not occurred there is a good possibility I would not have gone to the doctor, resulting in a late diagnosis which could have been disastrous.
Tom and I knew it was imperative to get a second opinion. Having two doctors mistakenly report I was cancer free dictated this decision. We were directed, through prayer and investigation to MD Anderson in Houston, Texas. [Editor's Note: MD Anderson is one of the top cancer hospitals in the world] This started another battery of tests, more waiting, more anxiety ,and then it would start all over again. Thank God it did. My doctor was young, intelligent, and a pro in his field. He had me checked from head to foot. When I got through I knew I was in expert hands. Surgery was scheduled.
TEST RESULTS AND SURGERY
My tumor was in the upper quadrant of my right lung where the bronchial tubes begin branching off. Not an optimum location. Under the tumor was the main artery that feeds the lung, plus two lymph glands. All tests had come out in my favor, but testing to see if the cancer had invaded these two areas couldn't be done until after surgery. That meant more waiting, and for those of you that have been through this, you know the waiting can be excruciating. Surgery was performed. The upper right lobe was removed, the tumor was removed, as well as part of a rib. I did so well I was not required to go into ICU. I was up and walking the second day. The third day I had mega-company and greeted them with full make-up on. On the fourth day the final test results came in regarding the lymph glands and artery; they were negative. I can't even begin to tell you the joy I felt. To have had so many tests, and to have them all come back in my favor was truly a blessing from God. More good news, I was told I would not be required to have either chemo or radiation. Knowing how debilitating these drugs are, you can imagine that my joy, with this news, was overwhelming.
HOMEWARD BOUND AND RECOVERY
I was released from MD Anderson hospital one week after surgery. Tom and I stayed with family in Houston for three days and then headed home to San Antonio. Recovery after intensive surgery is tough. You hurt, you're weak, food doesn't taste good, you can't sleep, in general you're depressed - it's the pits. But I was blessed with a dear friend, who for one month literally moved in with us and, together, she and Tom provided me with the most wonderful, nurturing care you can imagine. I call them both my earthly angels.
My first check-up was one month after surgery. Being apprehensive would be an understatement. I was so scared my mouth felt like cotton and when the nurse checked my vital signs, my blood pressure went from normal to very elevated. I had already had an x-ray taken and I was afraid of the results. My doctor came into the exam room with x-ray in hand and a delightful grin on his face. My check-up was excellent. My lungs, due to walking a mile and pushing myself hard, had enlarged! My surgery scar was healing beautifully, and my lungs sounded almost clear. When we were leaving Tom askd if there were any tests I should have done between then and my six month check-up and my doctor said with confidence...."No, she's fine!"
I am five months out of surgery and feeling stronger every day. But I know, from two very reliable sources, it will be at least twelve months before I can say I feel like my old self. I have backed off my walking some due to hot, humid weather, but I'm back playing golf and dancing. Am I apprehensive? If I said No, I'd be lying. My six month check-up is at the end of September and I do get extremely anxious when I think about it. Do I pray? Yes! I also stand on God's promise...."for I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wonds, saith the Lord!" This promise gives me strength and a positive attitude.
Your web site [CancerGuide] is incredible! I fully believe things happen for a reason! Even my cancer brought me to the realization that I needed to change my life-style and attitude. I believe God has given me a second chance. Finding CancerGuide and reading the stories of others, that had/have cancer, has been very therapeutic for me. I now know my highs and lows are normal, that my fears are normal, also my anger. Being invited to tell my story has unleashed some of the negative feelings and fear. I'm grateful to have been given the opportunity to share my experience. Thank You.
I went in for my 6 month check-up last September, and I was scared to death!! But, through the Grace of God, I was FINE! All tests came back negative!!! At the end of March 1998, I went back to MD Anderson for my 1 year check-up, and again, Praise the Lord, all the tests came back negative again!! I am feeling wonderful! My energy level is returning, my mental attitude is no longer consumed with my illness, and I again have a sense of well being about my life and future. I have been blessed, God has given me back my health, He has given me back my life!!
UPDATE OCTOBER 1998: THE GOOD NEWS CONTINUES!
It has now been 1-1/2 years since I was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. I recently went to Houston, Texas, to MD Anderson, (where I had my surgery), for my regular 6 month check-up...it was GREAT!!!!! And, because of this excellent report, the Dr. now has me on a 1 year schedule...Praise The Lord!!!! I have said this many times, but I am going to repeat myself just the same, God has given me back my health, He has given me back my life!! I praise and give thanks to him daily!!
UPDATE OCTOBER 1999: AN EXCELLENT REPORT
Just got back from my 2-1/2 year check-up at MD Anderson. The report was excellent!!!!!!!
When I asked Dr. Walsh if he thought I was OK he said........"I know you are!" Needless to say, I came back to San Antonio on cloud nine!!
Each day is a gift! I'm grateful for each and every one of them!
UPDATE DECEMBER 2000: GREAT TO BE HERE!
I just got back from MD Anderson and my check up was excellent!!!! It will be 4 years, this coming February, since my surgery. Praise the Lord!!! Since I quit smoking I have gained a considerable amount of weight. My focus today is to lose it!!!! Not by fad diets, but in a healthy, long term way. I feel good, in fact I feel great, and I will feel much, much better, and my breathing will be less labored, once the weight is off. Say a prayer for me........we all need support and prayers from friends, family and loved ones. You will continue to be in mine, as always.
UPDATE MARCH 2002: FIVE YEARS
Can you believe it has been 5 years since my tumor was discovered? I had my check up just a matter of a month or so prior to the actual 5 year anniversary, and my Doctor, at MD Anderson, said it was close enough to count as 5 years and gave me a hug. When I asked if I was to come back in a year his comment was, "If you want to!!!" How's that for a report!!!!?????
I hadn't been out but 7 months from my surgery when my husband and I took over the care of our granddaughter, whom at the time was just 2 years old. God blessed me in two ways back then, one; giving me back my life, the second, bringing this precious little girl into our lives. We now have legal custody of her and this little 45 pound person has enriched our lives more than I can say. I will be forever on my hands and knees giving thanks to our Father in Heaven for both blessings.
UPDATE DECEMBER 30, 2002: BLESSED
I had my 6th year check up at MD Anderson in November and I couldn't be better! I have had so many people respond to "My Story", and it delights m, and fills my heart with Thanksgiving to be able to help those who contact me in some small measure.
I truly have been blessed by the Lord in so many ways; a wonderful, loving husband, a precious granddaughter, that we are blessed to raise, and my health. I praise God every day for these wonderful blessings.
I am almost 10 years out from Lung Cancer surgery. God has been very generous to me and my family. He has bestowed on us so many blessings and I try very hard each day to praise him for these riches. We still have our precious granddaughter, who is now almost 11 years old and continues to be a blessing in our lives. I continue to maintain good health.......and my complete belief is that God had a purpose for my life, he brought me through this terrible illness in order to minister to this beautiful child. I praise him daily for both blessings.
Update: June 2007
I have had my 10 year check up at MD Anderson this past March, 2007 for lung cancer. I am still cancer free, and know that God continues to bless me with good health. My breathing is not what it once was, but after smoking for over 40 years, having lung cancer, and losing part of my upper right lobe, I consider myself very, very blessed. Going into my 11th year is a celebration of the highest order. I continue to give praise to my Father in Heaven everyday.
Update: November 2009
We continue to nurture, raise and love our granddaughter. In one of my earlier updates I did mentioned that my husband and I had been blessed by this precious child when she was not quite 2 years old...........and I had only been out of surgery 7 months...she is now 14 and continues to be a blessing. I have lots to be thankful for.
Update: October 2011
Here it is 2011 and life is good!!! I have compromised breathing issues from the lung cancer & smoking for 40 years, but God had a life's purpose for me because 7 months out of surgery he brought our, at that time, 2year old grand daughter into our lives. She is now almost 16 and continues to be a blessing. I feel so blessed to be able to count myself as a 14 year lung cancer survivor!!!
Is my health perfect? No! But I believe a person has to deal with what life deals us, rather than focus on the negatives. I try to focus on the blessings; My husband, our grand daughter, our family & faithful friends. God is in the center of our lives and the blessings are many!! May God bless you as well.
Update: August 2012
I just returned from MD Anderson & having my 15th year check up!! This check up was different & a little scary. The schedule arrived for my check up a month or so prior to the actual appointment. It gave instructions to have a CAT scan, which was a first. I arrived in Houston, on the respective date, had the CAT scan & the next day I was to have my surgeon let me know the results. The first thing he asked me when he came into the exam room was,' "Why did you have a CAT scan ?" I explained that it was on the schedule I had received. As it turned out, he had not scheduled it, that it was an error in the scheduling department. However, & this was the scary part. Dr. W. had the scan report & he said with firmness that even though the radiologist had seen something he, (my Doctor), felt it was very insignificant, but because it was noted in the report I would have to come back in 6 months for another CAT scan. I went back to MD Anderson on the 9 of August, had the scan again and Praise the Lord!!!! I am good to go, NO cancer!!!!!!! Needless to say, I feel so terribly blessed!
FYI....I have mentioned in "my story" that we are raising our granddaughter, she was 2 when we were blessed to have her in our lives. She is now almost 17 years old and a junior in high school. She continues to be a blessing to us.
15 year lung cancer survivor!! That's incredible!!! I'm very lucky. God blessed me and giving thanks daily is a small thing to do in return for ones life. But I do every morning and every time I see my granddaughters beautiful face.
Update: December 2015
I am now about to go into my 19th year, in February 2016, as a survivor of lung cancer!!! Other than suffering from restrictive, compromised breathing. I praise God daily for His continued Healing Hands! Tom, my husband, & I continue to raise our Granddaughter who now is a Sophomore in College! I praise God for the gift of being able to continue being able to see this child of ours grow up. Tom & I just celebrated 59 years of marriage!
This too is a blessing! Praise the Lord!
For those of you that are dealing with this insidious Disease , never lose faith, trust in our Lord! I send you all love & blessings!
This CancerGuide Page By Barbara Bagley. © Barbara Bagley
Page Created: 1997, Last Updated: October, 2011