Discovering Cancer

I have cancer.

I recently discovered this, within the last nineteen days.

I am 31 years old, married, and have a baby girl. I exercise routinely, cook and eat fresh foods, drink wine once or twice a week, and do not smoke.

There is a tumor roughly six centimeters round in the center of my chest, amongst my lungs and trachea. It is impinging on these key components of my body thereby making it difficult for me to breathe. It is almost certain that if left untreated, the tumor will kill me.

This post will be a deviation from past themes of Emerging Environments and more about my own environment and journey.

On December 18th I went to see an internist because I was having difficulties breathing, first while jogging and then while performing routine daily tasks. I rarely visit the doctor, but the breathing issues seemed abnormal. The doctor heard nothing through the stethoscope but suggested an x-ray. I waited until December 31st.

Unknowing that a radiologist was present and that I would hear a reading at the lab, I was surprised to find myself waiting in a room post x-ray. I waited. I grew slightly anxious. I thought I might have pneumonia (at the worst).

A technician opened the door and asked if my primary physician was available, considering it was December 31st. The radiologist wanted my primary to read the results. I explained that I was visiting the area on vacation and that the referring doctor was not my primary.

The technician exited and my anxiety increased. Several minutes later the radiologist entered and explained that the lymph nodes in my chest were enlarged. My x-ray was abnormal and she suggested a CT-scan.

I did not attend the New Year’s party I was planning to that evening.

By January 4th I had completed the CT-scan and returned to see a colleague of the initial referring physician, who was unavailable. Her colleague thought that I might have lymphoma and she suggested that I check myself into the hospital via the emergency ward in order to speed up testing and diagnosing. Her colleague, an oncologist, agreed.

I spent January fourth through tenth of the new year in the hospital, giving blood and tissue samples and responding to numerous and often repetitive questions. I departed with an uncertain diagnosis. I likely had germ cell cancer, though it could have been lung cancer.

Several days later, on January 15th (2014), I received a final diagnosis–extragonadal seminoma germ cell cancer.

December 30, 2013–I was completely clueless.
January 15, 2014–I received a final diagnosis.

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About Emerging Environments

Thoughts about environmental policy, sustainability, cancer, and more.
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