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Family History

Hello to all, first of all I feel for anyone who is living with a lung cancer diagnosis and all family and caregivers of lung cancer patients. I lost my dad to this horrendous disease in 2016 and it's like having PTSD for survivors and families and caregivers of survivors. My dad was 51 when he quit smoking. Was diagnosed stage IIIb at 68 and passed away 10 months later at 69. My dad was a Vietnam war veteran, worked shift work most of his life, was exposed to agent orange and who knows what other carcinogens during his 30+ year military career and flight crew occupation. I am a former smoker as well. I quit smoking when I was 37 and am 50 years old now. I try to exercise and eat right and maintain a healthy weight. I know that I am trying to make up for the vices I had in my younger age as well. Obviously I am terrified the same thing will happen to me. The fear is really awful, I suffer from paralyzing anxiety from it. My questions are, is there anyone else like me here with similar circumstances? If so, how do you cope with this kind of fear? Does any one know how much family genetics factors in with lung cancer? My dad's mother was a very heavy smoker who never quit and she died at 88 years old of dementia. Should I push for annual low dose lung cancer ct scans? My dr. said because I quit at 37 by the time I am 52 (two years from now) I will not qualify under current guidelines to continue screening because I will have quit 15 years. This makes no sense to me when my dad quit at 51 and got cancer 17 years later. Thanks so much for any replies.

  1. I am so sorry for the loss of your Dad. I can understand, I lost my Mom to lung cancer a few months before my own lung cancer diagnosis. I am the 4th generation on my Mom's side to get lung cancer. In my opinion, if you don't qualify for a screening program, I would talk to your primary care provider and have him give you a referral for a low dose CT scan and go as a private patient. My son had to do that as he is a non-smoker and doesn't qualify, even with family history. He went to an imaging center that had a Low Dose CT Scan machine (hospitals are more expensive) and had to pay approximately $250 (we live in NYC) for the scan as he hadn't met his insurance deductible at the time. I feel it is worth it, you can call some screening programs in your area for prices. The screening requirements loosened up a little recently, perhaps you now qualify? As far as the fear goes, most of us feel it. We call it scanxiety and it is real and unfortunately a new normal. Please feel free to follow up with us and let us know how you are doing. All the best, Alisa, LungCancer Team Patient Leader

    1. Thank you for your reply. I am glad to hear your nodules have not changed much. I have read a lot about nodules and distinguishing between ones that would and would not be harmful to you. I would take this as a good sign. That and the fact you are with a good screening center and monitoring them closely would give me a lot of reassurance as well. The fact that you are alive and doing well 22 years later is remarkable and gives a lot of people hope. I'm glad forums like this exist to help people cope with this awful disease. I am hopeful I can get a grip on this anxiety and find a way to live well even with uncertainty about what the future holds. Wishing you a long and healthy future for you and your family as well!

    2. Thank you, your words touch me greatly. Wishing the same for you. Warmly, Alisa

  2. My advice is to pray and give it to God my older sister was just diagnosed with lung cancer Two weeks ago and she quit smoking At least two years ago. I quit 11 years ago. When I started on two pks a day my body was telling me to quit. We have to learn to pay attention to our body. Have a blessed day and may God bless you

    1. Hi Alisa, thank you for checking in. I am doing okay. The anxiety is definitely still challenging for me. My health anxiety is complex in that I believe it must somehow be all tied to my hormones as well. I say that because I have observed in myself that during times of anxiety.. It is so extreme that hard as I try to make it stop it is impossible and then times when I don't have anxiety I can't even make myself anxious if I tried. Even though the majority of my anxiety stems from health concerns, absolutely nothing of any significance will have been changing about my health either. Something will trigger it mentally I guess and down the rabbit hole I go.. It's exhausting 🙁( I appreciate the info regarding the referral. Luckily I have an excellent primary care doc who understands my concerns due to my smoking history and family history and he is vigilant about my lung and heart health. Fortunately he sent me for a ct scan of the heart a few months ago and specifically the report said no pulmonary nodules or infiltrates seen. He and I talked about the report at my last visit and devised a plan to follow up scan each year keeping an eye on my lungs and my calcium score on my heart. He has no problem making referrals for me and I have no problem paying for what my insurance doesn't want to cover. I feel good about all that and just continue to pray for excellent reports into the future. I hope you are doing very well yourself. I think it's wonderful to see people like you as a constant on these support forums. Really you can't possibly fully know the measure of comfort and support you are helping others with when they come here. Its such a kindness and brings something positive to these personal experiences that no one asks for or deserves. God bless you!

    2. Once again, thank you for your kind words, you touched my heart. Glad to know your primary care is looking out for you and you will be screened regularly. Yoiu are in a good place and hope your anxious times get less and less as time goes on, it sounds like you know your mind and body and move through life accordintly. I'm so glad you found our community! Hugs, Alisa

  3. We're so happy to have you here and that you find this forum helpful and comforting in shared experiences. Wishing you the very best! Stay blessed!
    Yolanda( Team)

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