My name is Maxine. I am a four-year lung cancer survivor. My doctor once told me I was a member of a very select group — lung cancer survivors. Most of us don't live very long past our diagnosis, especially those of us who have some of the more serious lung cancers. Mine was non-small cell bronchioalveolar carcinoma, one of the nastier ones, with a very high recurrence rate.
The very good thing about my cancer is that it was Stage IB, rather early on in the process. It was discovered during a routine chest X-ray and physical checkup for work, and had remained localized, so that the surgeon was able to remove the upper half of my left lung, where the 2-centimeter mass was located. The mass had not spread beyond the lung wall. No lymph nodes, thankfully, were involved.
Anxiety and gratitude
The consulting oncologist told me that radiation and chemotherapy following surgery are not required for Stage I cancers, so the surgery and long recovery period I was to face were the extent of my treatment, except for the follow-up visits every three months.
I generally get quite anxious as CT scan time approaches. Waiting those few days between taking the scan and getting the results, the bane of the cancer survivor, can seem like an eternity.
My sons were my care providers during and after surgery. If I haven't thanked them before for their tender, loving care, I am doing it now. Many of my dearest friends from as far south as Glendale called me or sent me gifts and cards. I healed. I resumed exercising.
And now I am a retired environmental scientist and busier-than-ever world traveler, college student, mother of five, grandmother of seven, avid theater-goer, art lover, and most importantly, a lung cancer survivor.
For information about cancer support groups available in the greater Sacramento region, please visit the Cancer Resource Center on the first floor of the UC Davis Cancer Center or call (916) 734-5935. Information is also available online in the "Patients & Visitors" area of our Web site at www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/cancer.