I was looking forward to retiring at the age of 60. Two weeks after my birthday, I had been a caregiver looking after patients in their own homes. Little did I know that it was me that was going to need care.
The day came when I retired, and life was looking good. My husband and I had lots of days out, tending the garden and enjoying retirement in general. Two years later, I found I was getting chest infections. At the time I was a heavy smoker, and smoking didn’t help me. I decided to quit smoking while on holiday. I joined a support group to help me on my quit journey. I enjoyed being online and helping not only myself to stop smoking but helping others too. After a year of belonging to the group, I was asked to help run the support the site as a voluntary administrator. I agreed, and to this present day, I still try and help others quit smoking.
Unfortunately, one year after stopping smoking I developed a very nasty chest infection. Antibiotics cleared it up; however, I found I was not feeling one hundred percent, and my legs and ankles began to swell up. My doctor said it was probably arthritis, but he wanted to send me to see another doctor for further investigation.
Oblivious of what the doctors were looking for, they were coming and going, examining me from head to toe. They finally sent me for an X-ray and said they would be in touch to make another appointment. This left me puzzled about what was wrong and what would be next.
Two days later was the start of my battle.
A letter came for me to go for a CT-scan because the X-ray showed an abnormality on my chest. After the scan, another letter came for me to go to the hospital. Once I was within my appointment room, a monitor was before me with my scan results showing my lung. Looking at the dark shadow, it was easy to see what was coming next.
It was confirmed that had cancer on my right lung. My heart sank, and the emotions I felt were very mixed. My husband was with me, and he too was taken back by the news. Sharing the news with my two daughters was difficult; but bless them both because they and my husband helped me a every step of the way.
One week later I had appointment to see the surgeon. He explained I would have to have an operation, to check that the cancer wasn’t attaching itself to the main artery, which goes to the brain. If all was well, they would schedule for an additional operation in two weeks to remove my right lung.
The first operation went well, and the cancer wasn`t pressing or attached to the windpipe or main artery. What a relief! It was approaching Christmas when the hospital phoned and stated that we were scheduled for the second surgery on the 10th of December. The second surgery last approximately six hours and everything went well.
I was in intensive care for three days following the surgery and don’t remember much of it due to the morphine. Once home, I was feeling fine until they put me on adjuvant chemotherapy. Because my side effects were so harsh, they decided not to carry on with the chemotherapy.
I struggled with my breathing for about a year. One day while at home, I found I couldn’t catch my breath. My husband called for an ambulance, and I was rushed to the hospital. I was told I had a heart attack. Thankfully, I was also told I didn’t need any further treatment and was just given medication.
After adding exercise and diet into my lifestyle, I started to feel better. I was fine for just over another year. Then I started to feel a bit dizzy and lightheaded, so I scheduled a visit with my general practitioner. After some tests, my doctor informed me that a tumor on my left adrenal gland had developed. By the time of my surgery to remove the tumor, it was the size of an orange.
I had adjuvant chemotherapy once again for about three weeks after surgery. I coped better with the chemotherapy this time; however, I lost my hair, and I started to get peripheral neuropathy in my hands and feet. After the third session, they had to stop the chemotherapy. I then found I was struggling again with shortness of breath. My doctor sent me to a cardiologist. After the tests, I was told my heart was strong and nothing to worry about. I tried exercise, but my breathing didn`t improve. I struggled for another year. Then one day, I decided it was time to see my GP and shared that I don’t feel right. The doctor took my blood pressure, then my pulse. She was very concerned, as my pulse rate was 34. I was immediately admitted to the hospital. The consultant cardiologist decided to take my beta-blocker off and monitor me. This worked, and my heart began to behave itself. To prevent my heart rate from dropping in the future, it was suggested to have a pacemaker fitted. This was done in January of 2017.
In April 2018, I had my last and final consultation with the oncologist who gave me the all clear and discharged me!
Perhaps you can understand why I try help others to stop smoking.