Chapter Thirteen

It has been over 30-days since the last chemotherapy. 

It was the fourth and final treatment. As with all the previous ones, the side effects were more intense. I kept reassuring myself that I could do this, that with the medication I could survive the nausea, the debilitating tiredness and two naps a day. Naps? They were more like lapsing into a coma as I would sleep for at least two hours at a time.

I wanted to wait until I had the PET scan and met with the oncologist, Dr. Garland, before writing. This past Monday I met with the Dr. Garland. Everything looks good. There are still two areas – one in what remains of my left lung and another in the right lung, but she feels they will not evolve into anything else as they have remained constant for two years of CT, PET scans and MRIs.

I wonder how many procedures it takes to begin glowing in the dark?

Dr. Garland asked about the tiredness and I admitted that I still had bouts of tiredness, but not as bad as they were while having chemo. She said I would feel even better by the time I see her next, in three months after having yet another PET scan. 

A colonoscopy is not my most favorite medical procedure, if there is such a thing. It ranks right up there with a spinal tap. It is the preparation for the procedure that is the absolute worst and I had NO sleep the night before the procedure. Fortunately it was an early morning procedure. During the course of the “scope” a 15 mm polyp found and removed. I was blessed to be able to sleep through the procedure and did not recall a thing about it.

What I did learn was that adenocarcinoma lung cancer cells can present in the colon. During a previous CT scan, the colon did "light up" which usually means cancer. The pathology report showed that the polyp was a tubular adenoma, which is a pre-cancerous polyp. I am most definitely on the "every third year" colonoscopy plan.

An adenocarcinoma is a type of lung cancer that begins in the glandular cells of the lungs. These cells create and release fluids like as mucus. About 40 percent of all lung cancers are non-small cell adenocarcinomas.

The two other main types of lung cancer are squamous cell carcinoma and large cell carcinoma. The majority of cancers that begin in the breast, pancreas, and prostate also are adenocarcinomas.

Smoking is the main cause of non-small cell adenocarcinoma, but other risk factors can contribute to your likelihood of developing the disease. I am a former smoker. I knew when I quit smoking there would be no guarantee I would never experience the effects of the diseases caused by smoking.

Breathing polluted air can raises your risk of lung cancer. Chemicals found in diesel exhaust, coal products, gasoline, chloride, and formaldehyde may be dangerous too.

Over a long period of time, radiation therapy of the lungs may raise the risk of lung cancer. Drinking water that contains arsenic is also a risk factor for non-small cell lung cancer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. Non-small cell adenocarcinomas can develop in non-smokers too, according to the American Cancer Society.

Women may be more at risk than men for this type of lung disease. Also, younger lung cancer patients are more likely to have non-small cell adenocarcinoma, compared with other forms of lung cancer.

Early on, a person with non-small cell lung cancer may not experience symptoms. Once symptoms appear, they usually include a cough that doesn’t go away. Taking a deep breath, coughing, or laughing can cause chest pain in people with lung cancer. Other symptoms include the following:

  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • wheezing
  • coughing up blood
  • a brownish color in your phlegm

The first three are the symptoms I had. Since I was also having cardiac issues, it was difficult to discern what the actual problem was. I guess that is where the CT, PET and MRI’s are most valuable – to help diagnose without having to dissect, so to speak.

Yes, I would have been happier if there had been no polyp found during the course of the colonoscopy. Yet I know that God's got this. As much as I dislike the prep for the colonoscopy, I will be diligent in following up.

I am ever grateful for all your prayers, thank you so much.

I learned last Sunday that two women in our congregation have been diagnosed with lung cancer. I believe this may be an opportunity to minister to them.

I have been blessed by early diagnosis, wonderful medical professionals, a husband who had been a most amazing caregiver and the prayers of many saints around this nation. Indeed, even if the outcome were at the other end of the spectrum, I would still say I am blessed. I believe with all my heart the Sara Miles quote that “Prayer is one of the deepest forms of relationship with God… and through relationship there can be healing in the absence of cure.”

Meanwhile, I will be having regular medical evaluations every three months for the first year. I can live with that.

That’s it for this installment of Love In the Time of Chemo. Until next time-

Tamara

Psalm 63:4   The New Living Translation
I will praise you as long as I live,
    lifting up my hands to you in prayer.