Thursday, November 1, 2012

definitely not bad news

Lung Cancer Awareness Month kick-off coincided with my CT scan Thursday at PinnacleHealth Hospital so the tech was kind enough to photograph the moment.

Actually the CT scan was my second 4 month follow up scan since lung cancer surgery in March 2011 accelerated two weeks because of a lingering cough and intermittent shortness of breath (and then delayed two days due to Hurricane Sandy).

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month ... Do you know the #1 and #2 early signs of lung cancer?   #1 lingering cough  #2 shortness of breath with activity … needless to say I was in high scanxiety!

Following the scan I sat down with my thoracic surgeon who most importantly saw no tumors or suspicious areas.

Sooo the verdict was definitely not bad news but the jury is still out over whether it was excellent news.

He wants to do another CT scan in 8 weeks after all the respiratory inflammation of chest cold activity has settled down. It’s about my notorious right side lymph node and seeing how it's behaving.

On my cancer timeline this one lymph node has become ‘notorious’ because it's also known by it's stage name the "13mm right-sided subcarinal adenopathy" that lit up my PET scan 10 months ago brighter than the actual cancerous upper left lobe nodule. Though only 9 days earlier it was not even significant on my fist CT Scan. My original pulmonologist was not particularly concerned about the lymph node while both thoracic surgeon and oncologist originally felt it was worth a closer look and possible biopsy before lung cancer surgery. However I went bradycardic even flatlined for 15-20 seconds during the outpatient EBUS procedure and it was never completed. Four months later during my post-surgery, follow-up CT scan this lymph node was again insignificant having shrunk back to normal size. Yet here again it was swollen.

In my 'worry world' this keeps me awake because cancer on both sides would be a whole different story or staging. However in the my 'real world' cancer has only been found on one side.

In it's defense … lymph nodes swell for a lot of reasons including doing their job so at this point regular ‘monitoring’ is pragmatic medicine. 

And in the meantime I will be sitting down with other jurors, my oncologist and new pulmonologist in the next couple weeks to talk.

(To paraphrase Lewis Carroll)

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of coughs -- and scans -- and lymph nodes
Of scanxiety -- and lungs ..."

Lesson learned from Day 1 of Lung Cancer Awareness Month - NOT bad news can be good news! 

Patrick Leer
Caregivingly Yours, MS Caregiver @

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