Cheryl Lamprecht's Story
It was in April of 2005 when I developed a cough that lingered for more than a couple of weeks. I remember that last year about the same time of year I had the same cough and it did finally go away so I really wasn't very concerned. But all those commercials on TV warning about persistent coughs made me go see my doctor. He suggested a chest x-ray—down the hall I went to have it done. I brought it back to his office where he looked at it and he indicated to me that it looked fine. The next day he called me (never a good sign when your doctor calls you) and said the radiologist saw a small shadow on my left lung that looked like it may be pneumonia, but not to worry. My doctor called in a prescription for an antibiotic to treat the systems. After the 10-day course of action, he repeated the x-ray. The cough had gone away, but not the shadow on my lung.
So now it was on to a pulmonologist. He ordered a CAT scan to get a better look at the shadow. Both he and the radiologist said that it did not look like cancer and he was just going to watch it for a couple of months and then repeat the CAT scan.
Didn't think it looked like cancer. That never even crossed my mind. I was a healthy, active person in my 50s—worked a full time job, trained at the gym several times a week, hiked every weekend. What was he talking about, "Didn't think it looked like cancer"? Of course it wasn't cancer — it couldn't be. I was too young, too healthy, and I didn't smoke."
The doctor waited three months and repeated the CAT scan. The spot on my lungs did not go away. He encouraged me to have a broncoscopy to better find out what the spot was. However, a broncoscopy is not always conclusive, as you go in blind and hope that you reach the spot. If you don't reach the right area, you still get enough fluid to see if there are any suspicious cells.
Now this whole lung cancer thing was becoming more real. Both my parents had lung cancer. My mother's was caught very early (at age 76) and she is still surviving after 11 years. My father's was caught much later (at age 83) and they only gave him 3 to 6 months to live. He survived 2 years and succumbed to lung cancer in July. Could this be hereditary? Was this really happening to me? I still could not believe it!
The results from the broncoscopy came back "suspicious," so much so that my doctor wanted to do a biopsy. OMG, a biopsy! I thought they only do those when they are pretty sure cancer is involved. Having just lost my father to lung cancer four months earlier, I decided that I needed to be as cautious as possible and go ahead with the biopsy.
It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when my doctor called me and asked me to stop by to go over the results. After work I went to his office; he was there waiting for me—the rest of the staff had already gone home. He took me back into an examination room and gave me the results—YOU HAVE CANCER. I was in denial; he must have made a mistake. The rest of what he said is just a blur. All I remember is that he had set up an appointment for me on Monday with a surgeon. The words YOU HAVE CANCER kept rolling around in my head. I had to get through the holiday and the long weekend before I could find out my fate. It was way overwhelming!
To make a long story short, I had Stage I lung cancer. I had surgery to remove the lower lobe of my left lung and because of the size of the tumor; the protocol was to follow surgery with chemotherapy. I asked my oncologist if there were any support groups, walks, fundraisers, etc. for lung cancer and was answered with a resounding—NO! Most lung cancer patients don't live long enough to get anything started. I went through all the nausea, hair loss, neuropathy, etc. connected with chemo, but I am now cancer free and hope to stay that was for many, many years. I want all people with lung cancer to have the same outcome as I have and that is why I am working with the Lung Cancer Connection to make all our dreams become reality.