I met another victim of lung cancer yesterday. We are staying with friends in Englewood, Florida, and neighbors, Chuck and Marsha, came over and shared dinner with us. After the usual pleasantries, Chuck and I shared our stories which, at least at first, seemed eerily similar.
Chuck’s Melanoma (on his scalp) was discovered first, and, three days later, a chest X-Ray showed Lung Cancer. In my case, the Lung Cancer was discovered first, followed by my Melanoma, three days later. Very strange.
At that point our stories diverge. Chuck’s Lung Cancer was Stage 3 (no remote lesions). However, because his main tumor was extremely close to his aorta and to his voice box, he underwent seven weeks of a combination of radiation and chemotherapy to try to shrink the tumor. Once it became safe to operate, he had one of his lungs surgically removed. His latest CT Scan shows no evidence of cancer — he is “clean as a whistle” as he puts it.
We also chatted about other details, such as the type of doctors we have, etc. His cancer, like mine, was treated extremely quickly (we both think that this fact has contributed significantly to our success so far). He obviously has major side effects, like shortness of breath (due to just one lung) and a soft voice (his vocal cords were slightly damaged during his surgery). Chuck attends Support Group meetings while in Florida and he highly recommends my joining a group.
All in all, it was a wonderful evening. We both promised to keep track of the other’s progress through our mutual friends. Chuck’s wife, Marsha, also chatted extensively with Lee regarding the role of the care-taker and how to handle the feeling of helplessness as they watch their partner deal with this life-changing crisis.