Personal Story of Being Diagnosed With Small Cell Lung Cancer

Gaylene's Lung Cancer Journal

Photo © Gaylene

Hello, everyone. I'm Gaylene. I smoked for over 30 years, never dreaming what I was doing to my health. Fifteen years ago, I'd have told anyone, "I'm in perfect health." I walked at least four miles a day, kept up with my boys while climbing mountains, didn't take a single medication, had endless energy, and never got sick. That all changed when I started developing a cough that worsened....and next came a shortness of breath.

My life as I knew it came to a halt. I'm so proud that I was able to stop smoking. Proud of being four years smoke-free, and grateful too, for the camaraderie and support I've found on the forum to help me WIN. As I've said so many times, I use the term WIN because I don't like being a "quitter." I'm a WINNER. And right now I have another battle to WIN...

Feb. 5, 2007: I've been experiencing very sharp pain behind my sternum. It feels like a knife piercing through to my back, with the pain radiating into my right shoulder blade, down my arm and up to my ear. I'm also feeling much more out of breath than usual. Although I'm sure this is all caused by the tremendous amount of stress I've been under for the past year and a half, I'm a bit worried it might be my heart. So, today I have an appointment to see my doctor.

Later today...

My doctor seems to think the sternum pain is caused by gallstones and the shoulder pain is from working all day in my hair salon.

She's ordered a CT scan, an ultrasound, and a chest x-ray. Tomorrow I'll get a call with the results.

Feb. 6, 2007: The call came. There's something "suspicious looking" in my right lung and my paratracheal lymph nodes are enlarged. I'll need to go to the medical center in Billings, MT for further testing.

Fast forward through several more tests and biopsies...

March 7, 2007: Oh my God. This can't be true. I can't have COPD and cancer.

But it's true: I've been diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. It has spread to my paratracheal lymph nodes and thyroid. The good news is that cancer has not progressed to my brain yet. Because small cell lung cancer is inoperable, my treatment will be chemotherapy and radiation.

Page 3: Gaylene's Treatment Begins

Continue Reading