July 22, 2011 Update on My Lungs

Family and Friends,

Just wanted to give you all a heads up on what’s happening with me. I have had a couple of CT scans in the past two months that have shown something growing evenly throughout my lungs, and the doctors don’t know what it is. They have considered a dozen possibilities, including anything from tuberculosis, to lupus, to bacteria, to cancer (least likely), and what they see doesn’t look quite like any of them. Because of this, they are going to do a biopsy by taking a section out of three lobes of my lungs that are each “about the size of a section of orange”. They will poke two or three holes between my ribs and go in with the assistance of a video camera, just like they did when I had one lobe of my lung removed four years and eight months ago (not that I'm counting the time or anything...). I’ll have surgery at Providence Portland on Wednesday, August 10th, will be there for 1-3 days, and will likely be back to work part-time the next week.

For perspective on whatever this is, my surgeon said that he had been very happy to see one of my real estate signs last year: "It's not often that you get to shake the hand of a Stage 3 lung cancer survivor." I'm very lucky to be alive. Chances of survival after five years are 40% for Stage 2 lung cancer, and I never wanted to find out just how much less the chances are with Stage 3.

I’m feeling very fortunate that whatever this is was even discovered before I had any real symptoms beyond minor tiredness and a dry cough. It was only picked up because I have been having routine follow-up scans to confirm that I am still cancer free. Had I not had lung cancer, this wouldn't have been picked up until my symptoms - whatever this is - were much worse, and possibly too late. You never know where the next blessing is going to come from.