Health & Fit: ​'How I Told My Siblings I Had Lung Cancer' - Prostate, lung, colon: the 3 most common tumors in humans - PressFrom - US

Health & Fit ​'How I Told My Siblings I Had Lung Cancer'

21:50  18 october  2019
21:50  18 october  2019 Source:

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"Condition Confessions" is a new series by Women's Health where we'll be asking women how they told their friends, significant others, family members, and colleagues about their health conditions.

a group of people posing for a photo: When Kimberly Buchmeier was diagnosed with lung cancer at 37, despite never smoking, she had to tell her best friends: her sisters and brother.© Kimberly Buchmeier When Kimberly Buchmeier was diagnosed with lung cancer at 37, despite never smoking, she had to tell her best friends: her sisters and brother.

I never smoked a day in my life. I ate healthy, exercised regularly, and had even completed a half marathon. As a 37-year-old wife and mother to three, I was living the good life. And yet, after chronic back pain and fatigue brought me from doctor to doctor, a spinal scan revealed a mass on my lung.

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My doctors decided to treat me with antibiotics for a week in case it was pneumonia. I called my older sister to tell her what was going on. She's four years older than me, and we tell each other just about everything.

“Pneumonia?” I remember her saying. “Do you feel sick? Are you coughing?” I assured her I felt fine, that they just had to cover their bases. We laughed about how strange it was that they were treating me for pneumonia when I went in for back pain.

I left out the fact that my doctor told me there was one other possible cause for the lump: lung cancer. The possibility that I was running around—literally—with lung cancer didn't seem possible at all. There was probably no reason to stress. So I didn't, and I didn't bother stressing her.

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'You're Not Gonna Believe This'

But I didn't have pneumonia, my doctors said when I went back a week later. They told me they were fairly certain the mass was cancerous, and that they'd know more after a biopsy. I was in complete shock. It didn't seem fair, and it still doesn't, that a person so careful to protect their health could end up in this position.

Still attempting to process it all, I called my older sister again. “So remember that pneumonia? You're not gonna believe this,” I told her. “They found a mass on my lung, and they think I have lung cancer.” My sister’s reaction was almost exactly the same as mine at the doctor’s office—a jumbled stream of “what?” “how?” and “why?”

She left work early, and I immediately drove to her house, which is just a few miles from mine. I explained that my doctor wanted to run more tests and do a biopsy on the mass, which would determine if the mass was in fact cancerous. At her house, I went to find out more about lung cancer online, but she stopped me. “Don’t look at the computer,” she said. It was good advice.

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Whatever was going to happen, she said, she would be there to help. And she was.

My doctor referred me to an oncologist, who was fairly certain that I did have lung cancer after doing a scan. That's when I decided to tell my other two other siblings: my younger sister and my older brother. All of us live within five miles of each other, and we’re all really close. I actually told my three siblings before I told my parents.

I called my younger sister and gave it to her straight. "I just met with an oncologist who thinks I have lung cancer," I said. I explained that I had a mass on my lung, and I was going in for a biopsy to see what kind of lung cancer I had.

Like my older sister, she was shocked. In a way uniquely hers, she showed love by asking questions and finding answers. She works in the healthcare field, and she’s constantly surrounded by doctors. Then, and throughout my treatment, she was always calling me to say, “so I talked to this doctor about your symptoms” or “I asked this nurse about your medication” and reporting back with their opinions and advice.

It was a comfort for both of us—for me, I knew I was only a phone call away from a reliable medical source, and for her, I think it helped to know that she was on top of my care from start to finish.

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Then, I called my brother who is six years younger than me. He's not the touchy-feely type. After I told him that I had lung cancer, he didn’t miss a beat before telling me “you can do this.”

He reminded me that he was here for me if I needed absolutely anything and assured me that I was strong enough to beat whatever would come my way. He seemed calm on the phone, but when we later talked about that call, he told me he was anything but.

Less than a month after learning I likely had lung cancer, I had a surgical biopsy. It showed that I had adenocarcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer. I was scheduled to have surgery in two weeks.

During surgery, they had to remove the entire lower right lobe of my lung because the tumor was in such a hard-to-reach spot close to my diaphragm. I was cut open from my back around to my stomach.

Throughout my four weeks of recovery, my siblings were there, helping to take care of my family and constantly visiting me in the hospital. And after that, for the next four months of chemotherapy, with nearly life-threatening complications, they were there, too.

a person lying on a bed: Kimberly Buchmeier Lung Cancer© Kimberly Buchmeier Kimberly Buchmeier Lung Cancer My older sister took charge of coordinating meals for my family, making sure my kids all got where they needed to be, and corresponding with my friends to see who was coming over when.

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My younger sister kept track of all of my medications, and she’d check with every nurse and doctor she worked with every time a symptom changed. And, as promised, my brother was just a call away when I needed him.

'We're Closer Than Ever Before'

Some of my closest friendships faded throughout my fight with cancer. I never really figured out why. Maybe it was because I wasn't around to be a good friend back, because they didn't know what to say, or because they were scared to get too close and then lose me like they'd lost other friends and family members to cancer.

But, throughout the my lung cancer journey, my sisters, brother, and I became even closer than we were before. They stayed strong, and they helped me do the same.

Today, I've been in remission for almost seven years. I go back for scans annually, and my siblings always expect a call with my results. They've supported me as I’ve gone to the National Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C. with Lung Cancer Alliance, and urged representatives to increase funding for lung cancer research.

And, back in Nebraska, they've walked alongside me with other survivors, caregivers, and healthcare professionals to help raise money and awareness for lung cancer research and advocacy.

Whatever happens next, I know my siblings will be there.

Gallery: Everyone should know these lung cancer symptoms—even non-smokers (Prevention)

You likely know by now that smoking cigarettes is linked to nearly 80 to 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in the United States. But here’s the thing: Lung cancer—a disease in which abnormal cells clump together to form a tumor that begins in the lungs—is the most common cancer worldwide and is still the leading cancer killer of both men and women in the U.S, even surpassing breast cancer in women. That means up to 20 percent of people who die from lung cancer have never even smoked at all, according the American Lung Association.So what other causes of lung cancer are there? Exposure to radon (an odorless gas found in homes) is often to blame, explains Robert McKenna, Jr., MD, a thoracic surgeon at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. Other possible culprits include air pollution, secondhand smoke, and environmental hazards like asbestos. That’s why understanding and being able to spot the symptoms of lung cancer is so important. Oftentimes, people aren’t on the lookout for them because they’re not a smoker—and by the time the telltale signs of lung cancer appear, like chest pain and a nagging cough, the cancer has likely spread to a more advanced, harder-to-treat stage. Although there are plenty of less sinister reasons for the following symptoms to crop up, play it safe and discuss them with your doctor—especially if you notice them persisting. Here, nine lung cancer symptoms everyone should know.

'Velvety' Appearance of Woman's Palms Was a Sign of Lung Cancer .
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