"You Have Cancer"
Hearing the words “you have cancer” is so very hard. It is probably the hardest conversation that I have had with anyone to date. It is funny the things that you remember out of that conversation.
Many people experience a delay in diagnosis because of many factors but with lung cancer, in a young person, it's usually age. Often, you will hear things such as “you’re too young” or “it cannot be lung cancer”. I did not have this experience, I had symptoms and a diagnosis all within days.
My symptoms that led to diagnosis
I remember I started having chest pains on Thursday. It was mild and I did not really think too much into it. I was sitting at my parent’s house and I noticed I had a wheeze. Another thing that I brushed off as maybe I was just getting sick. Robert, my mom, and I decided to take a walk and we went about 2 miles. My chest pain kept getting worse but still not yet worrisome. We left my parent's house and joined my husband’s family for dinner to celebrate his brother’s birthday.
After dinner, we had planned to join up with his family to continue the celebration. We pulled into his driveway and my sister called. I burst into tears because now the pain was just unbearable. My sister is a nurse and promptly told me that this was not normal and that I needed to go to the emergency room. She spoke with Robert and off we went.
Off to the emergency room
At this point, it is now Saturday. I waited approximately 2 minutes in the waiting room before I was taken to the back. The first thing they did was a blood test. I do not know too many technical terms, but I know they were testing to see if I had a blood clot. My test came back and there was a high chance that I did indeed have a blood clot. I was then taken to get a chest CT scan and once the results were read, they did find a pulmonary embolism in my right lung. They also found a suspicious mass in my left lung, so I was going to be admitted into the hospital.
I do not recall what all happened in the first few days of being in the hospital, but I was scheduled to have a bronchoscopy on Wednesday. I know they mentioned that this could be cancer but even by this point I still did not believe it was.
The shocking news of lung cancer
On Friday, I was sitting in the hospital room with my mom. I did not know what we were waiting for and was just going with the flow. A man that I had not yet met came into the room and asked to speak with me and if it was okay if my mom stayed. Of course, I said yes.
He explained that the results came back from the bronchoscopy and that it was cancer. He explained that it was an unspecified carcinoma and that I would not have to travel to Chicago for treatment as they could handle it all locally. He would continue to say that I would not remember this conversation, probably because I was crying, and to just go home this weekend and act as I would have if I did not hear these words.
Listen to your body
Looking back, I did have a few indicators that I had a blood clot. I had taken a road trip from Illinois to Connecticut in March of 2014 to drop my sister off for her first travel nurse assignment. I remember being at the gym on the treadmill and having to stop because my calf started hurting. My cough also lasted about two weeks before it started being painful.
I hope that by reading my story you understand just how important it is to listen to your body. If something feels off or out of the norm, please please please get it checked out.
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