Referral to a Lung Specialist

I met with my medical oncologist last Friday–she handled the chemo side of treatment. She confirmed that the PET scan showed the cancer is all gone, which was good to hear again since it can be hard to believe. She also said we’ll do three month scans for quite some time and stay vigilant, which was honestly even better to hear. This is a long game, not a short one. When I hit the two year mark and it hasn’t come back, maybe I’ll relax a little.

She also decided to cut out the middleman and refer me to a pulmonary clinic for ongoing treatment of my lung. I went to the lung specialist yesterday. He was very thorough–took my whole history (both cancers), examined me, had me walk around with an O2 meter, said “Hmm…” a lot. He sent me for a lung X-ray to check for fluid and “just to be careful.”

I hadn’t expected any kind of scan so I sat in the waiting room trying not to cry as the fear of what it might show slowly bloomed. The lung doctor said he’d call with results and then call in steroids unless I needed to have fluid drained.

He called this afternoon to say the X-ray showed the “same patchy areas” that were on the PET/CT in March. That sounded like good news–I mean we already saw that and it’s radiation inflammation, right? He then said he would message both my radiation and medical oncologists to “see if they want another CT” and also confirm that they’re OK with him prescribing prednisone.

I hadn’t spoken with my radiation oncologist since he told me to let him know if it got worse. I was also feeling nervous about that X-ray even though it’s illogical. I told him about the lung specialist and the X-ray, along with my worsening symptoms. He responded right away and reaffirmed that it’s radiation pneumonitis, that prednisone is in order, that it should be a very high dose (60 mg) at first with very slow weaning.

Then I looked at the side effects of high dose prednisone: face swelling, wrecked immune system, severe bone loss, diabetes, weight gain, insomnia, rage, and psychosis. Yikes–really? Any hesitation went away when I had a coughing fit from getting undressed (bending over is the worst) that lasted for several minutes and scared the shit out of me because there were moments I genuinely wasn’t sure I could breathe at all.

So screw the potential side effects. I apologize in advance for any psychotic behavior. Bring on the steroids (hopefully starting tomorrow or Saturday).

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