I thought of myself as living a healthy lifestyle. I regularly exercised and ate healthy. I’m here today because of early detection. I had my annual check-up and mentioned that I had been experiencing pain on the right side of my mid back for about 3 months. I thought I might have pulled a muscle playing tennis and possibly kept re-injuring it. All of my blood work was good and I was considered healthy.
My PCP sent me for a chest x-ray (I believe she saved my life by ordering it). She said everything was o.k. on the right side, but on the left side there was a nodule. I went for a CT scan and was then referred to a thoracic surgeon for a consult. He thought it was probably inflamed from a previous infection, but because of my family history of cancer he ordered a PET scan. I then had a bronchoscopy and biopsy. The pulmonologist said everything looked negative and he didn’t think I had anything to worry about. So, I went about my life.
Five days later the results came in and the thoracic surgeon called to let me know it was cancer. I was devastated. How could this be? I didn't have a cough or sore throat...I had no symptoms! It turned out to be Stage 1B lung cancer. I realize now that I was one of the lucky ones. I had lung surgery March 22 and because the cancer was diagnosed early – stage 1b, and no lymph nodes were involved; I didn't need chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
If I didn’t have the pain in my back muscle, I wouldn’t have had the x-ray. Since I didn't have symptoms, I wouldn't have gone to the doctor and then it would have been at a much later stage. I would encourage anyone with a family history of cancer, and with or without a history of smoking, to get an annual chest x-ray.
I think people are unaware just like I was unaware. If you have lungs…you’re at risk! Watch the video here.