December, 2017

Welcome to my world of lung cancer survival

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I am a Lung Cancer Survivor

I am a lung cancer survivor and this blog is about who I am and my feelings as I go through my life now with a chronic lung disease. I will try to give you an accurate portrayal of what I have going through for the more than 20 years with lung cancer. It is my hope that it will help see you through your journey and make it a bit easier. Or that it will give you a better idea of what lung cancer patients endure. I am a cancer survivor and I have struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, (PTSD) for the past ten years.

I am not a scientist nor do I have a medical degree. However I strongly believe in science and modern medicine as answers to health problems. It’s always best to check with your doctor for medical advice. I hope to post thoughts on survivorship and other controversial topics that relate to my cancer. I have had PTSD is three times more likely to happen with people who have cancer than the general population. It fits in the with the roller coaster ride that is so prevalent with cancer, but happens after.

I am  Merry Preble. My husband, Dave and I live in Narragansett, R.I. –  home to some of the most beautiful beaches in New England. We have been married for thirty-seven years. We have adult children spread all over the country and grandchildren too.

My cancer story dates back to 1997 when I had to have a chest X-ray for what I thought was an injured rib. The radiologist picked up a shadow under one of my ribs, not a broken rib. I asked to see the X-ray after way too many people came in to see me in the waiting room asking me questions. What I saw was what looked like to me to be a huge “spot” on my lung.  I really had no idea what I was actually was looking at. I knew nothing about lung structure. “The spot”  was the result of my thirty-five years of smoking.. I had no idea how quickly my life would change. That was 20 years ago.

When my mother was a war bride in the 1940’s she started smoking while waiting for my dad to come home from WWII. After the war my folks loved going out for dinner and having guests to the house. I remember such gaiety and laughter and cigarette smoke after a night of partying.  It seemed that all of their friends smoked and so did my many aunts and uncles. It was hard to get away from cigarette advertisements. “Time/Life” (they had a two page spreads), among other magazines and advertising media promoted how to look glamorous while smoking and the accessories that went with it!!  Really!!

Until the 20’s mostly men smoked and lung cancer was  scarce. But by the 50’s more and more women smoked, more lung problems started to show up and doctors started to take these findings seriously. Back then parents didn’t think about smoking inside their homes, in front of their children. Generational addiction to cigarettes had shown its head. And by 1960’s there were many young people who became addicted. And so did I.

Like many other people who ware diagnosed with lung cancer.  I thought to myself,”How could this happen to ME?”  If you could hear my heart drop it would have sounded like a boulder coming down a hill. I broke out in a huge sweat, I couldn’t think. It was beyond overwhelming, this sense of panic and suffocation. How could I get out? Where do I look? Where do I go? What do I do? How could I get rid of it? I was a 51-year-old woman who had just learned she had cancer.

My story begins with my most recent lung cancer because it’s fresher in my mind and I go backward from there. I hope that you will forgive this order but it helps me to recapture how I felt. It’s easy to look at my records and tell you all my statistics but that isn’t what this blog is about. They are important but not as important as I am and who I have been these many years. And who I am.

My journey isn’t over. I am still facing follow-up CT scans, now about every three or four months apart. My next one with be early February, 2018 at Massachusetts General Hospital. Wish me luck.

I hope that you enjoy my blog and will leave me lots of feedback. To those of you with cancer, or who have had cancer and are out of treatment, I am with you in hoping for all positive things including lots of scientific research that will discover cures, solutions or preventive actions. Going through cancer is agony but holding on to hope is essential. It is the mainsail, the thing that will keep you headed into the wind. All you have to do is pull the halyard and you can raise yourself as high as you want. It’s not easy and sometimes is damn near impossible, but it is always there when you need it.

Take care of yourselves and I wish you luck, happiness and good health.

– Merry –

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
Emily Dickinson