Thursday, April 21, 2005

My mom's cancer

My mom is a lung cancer survivor and she sent me a link to an online (for now) comic about one family coping with their mother having lung cancer, simply put as My Mom's Cancer. My mother was lucky and hers did not spread to her brain, and she's also a nonsmoker (never has smoked, but she's been around it her whole life), but there are so many parallels to this guys story.

My mom's cancer was also found by just dumb luck. She had a fall and broke her leg. Considering it was not a bad fall, her doctor was concerned that she may have been osteoperatic (she is) and may have broken other bones, so she went in for a series of x-rays. The leg was the only bone broken, so she went home to heal up.

Months later, she went back to work. Because she is a nurse and happens to work in the same hospital where her leg was set, she asked to look at her own x-rays just out of curiosity. Looking at her chest film, she noticed something strange in her left lung and found notes from the radiologist suggesting to her primary care physician that follow-up was needed about the discrepancy in her lung. It was cancer. Her doctor had never mentioned it.

Suddenly her shortness of breath and repeated respiratory infections made sense.

Because of the broken leg and my mother following up on her own x-rays, the cancer was found very early and it was operable. Sounds easy, doesn't it? Not really. Her oncologist removed half of her left lung to make sure nothing spread or was missed. That's a very invasive surgery, and even 4 years later my mother still has nerve pain. The road to recovery was not short or easy.

Anyways, reading that comic sort of brought all the memories back. I was living far away from my mom at the time, so I was only there for the surgery. My sisters were there for all of the other very difficult times, and I'm so glad for that. I'm doing a bike ride this summer to raise funds for the American Lung Association - hopefully money I raise now can help prevent more people from having to go through this.

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