Part 5 of my Cancer Journal returns to last year when I learned I needed to have a wedge resection of my lung.
Wedge Resection Surgery
In the middle of February 2017, while undergoing radiation treatment for thyroid cancer, I met with a thoracic surgeon who said it was best to take out the suspicious lesion in my lung because it was still growing. (I had no cough, shortness of breath, or other breathing problems.) He planned to perform a wedge resection of my right lung; that is, the removal of a triangular piece of tissue that included the lesion, by a procedure called VATS, Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery. My surgery was scheduled for Friday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day.
When the day came, I had the surgery, which left me with a couple of three-inch long incisions along my ribcage, and I got to go home from the hospital, thank the Lord, after only two nights. (They don’t allow sleeping there.)
From an email to my sis- and bro-in-law on 3/29/17:
During the past few weeks, I had so much going on that I didn’t have the energy to write to you about what was going on with my health. I had lung surgery on 3/17, and I’m recovering fine now.
Turns out a scan showed that a tiny spot on my right lung was growing by leaps and bounds, so my endocrinologist, pulmonologist, and surgeon advised me to have it removed ASAP. No matter that the biopsy said it was non-cancerous. It was still too suspicious to ignore. Lee said if he were in my place, he’d have it out in a second. So I consented. But it was hard because I’d been so sick with the Radioactive Iodine. On March 8, a whole body scan showed the spot on my lung was glowing, meaning it had absorbed radiation, which made the doctors conclude it must be thyroid cancer that had metastasized. Anyway, the surgery was done as minimally-invasive as possible. Everything went as they expected.
Except the pathology report said the spot in question was not thyroid cancer but lung cancer. We couldn’t believe it. Apparently, when lung cancer is found as early as mine was, it usually shows up when the patient is x-rayed for something else, and the radiologist notices it. Which is exactly what happened in my case. I may have to have more surgery, but not until after our trip to Israel in May.”
When I first read online about the prognosis – the five-year survival rate for those with my type (non-small cell carcinoma) and my stage (IA) lung cancer is 49 percent – I immediately thought of how much of the lives of our kids, sons-in-law, and grand-kids I’d miss and how hard it would be to tell them goodbye, as well as my husband. I think that was my lowest point emotionally.
A verse in my daily reading resonated with me.
Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll —
are they not in your record?” – Psalm 56:8
Facing the worse-case scenario and committing my future to the Lord calmed my spirit.
Two more verses that jumped off the page during the week reminded me of the source of my daily strength and my eternal hope. Such an encouragement!
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.
Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.” -Psalm 68:19-20 (NIV)
Cancer: Not an Exact Science
Within a week after my surgery, I had a phone visit with my endocrinologist. She told me the path report from the wedge resection was not entirely conclusive, that thyroid cancer can sometimes mimic lung cancer. (Click here to read about a case.) What’s more, she’d conferred with my other specialists, urging them to send my tissue sample back East to a guru pathologist for another opinion, and she’d made arrangements to present my case to the Tumor Board at the medical center. By that time, my surgeon advised me to have a lobectomy of my right lung, but Lee and I decided to wait for the conclusions of the famous pathologist before opting for more surgery.
I emailed my sis-in-law on 3/31/17:
Thanks for calling. I know it’s not easy to talk about cancer. At least that’s the way I felt about it before I got it. Now, it’s like my ear picks up the word everywhere I turn. You two sound good. You can tell a lot by someone’s voice, and yours sounded compassionate.”
Thanks for coming by today to read my post.
Part 5 posted on March 6, 2018.