Part 5, Wedge Resection of the Lung

Part 5 of my Cancer Journal returns to last year when I learned I needed to have a wedge resection of my lung.

Wedge Resection Surgery
In the middle of February 2017, while undergoing radiation treatment for thyroid cancer, I met with a thoracic surgeon who said it was best to take out the suspicious lesion in my lung because it was still growing. (I had no cough, shortness of breath, or other breathing problems.) He planned to perform a wedge resection of my right lung; that is, the removal of a triangular piece of tissue that included the lesion, by a procedure called VATS, Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery. My surgery was scheduled for Friday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day.

Used for Wedge Resection

When the day came, I had the surgery, which left me with a couple of three-inch long incisions along my ribcage, and I got to go home from the hospital, thank the Lord, after only two nights. (They don’t allow sleeping there.)

From an email to my sis- and bro-in-law on 3/29/17:

During the past few weeks, I had so much going on that I didn’t have the energy to write to you about what was going on with my health. I had lung surgery on 3/17, and I’m recovering fine now.

Turns out a scan showed that a tiny spot on my right lung was growing by leaps and bounds, so my endocrinologist, pulmonologist, and surgeon advised me to have it removed ASAP. No matter that the biopsy said it was non-cancerous. It was still too suspicious to ignore. Lee said if he were in my place, he’d have it out in a second. So I consented. But it was hard because I’d been so sick with the Radioactive Iodine. On March 8, a whole body scan showed the spot on my lung was glowing, meaning it had absorbed radiation, which made the doctors conclude it must be thyroid cancer that had metastasized. Anyway, the surgery was done as minimally-invasive as possible. Everything went as they expected.

Except the pathology report said the spot in question was not thyroid cancer but lung cancer. We couldn’t believe it. Apparently, when lung cancer is found as early as mine was, it usually shows up when the patient is x-rayed for something else, and the radiologist notices it. Which is exactly what happened in my case. I may have to have more surgery, but not until after our trip to Israel in May.”

When I first read online about the prognosis – the five-year survival rate for those with my type (non-small cell carcinoma) and my stage (IA) lung cancer is 49 percent – I immediately thought of how much of the lives of our kids, sons-in-law, and grand-kids I’d miss and how hard it would be to tell them goodbye, as well as my husband. I think that was my lowest point emotionally.

A New Book for the Grandkids
With Grandkid Number Five

A verse in my daily reading resonated with me.
Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll —
are they not in your record?” – Psalm 56:8

Facing the worse-case scenario and committing my future to the Lord calmed my spirit.

Two more verses that jumped off the page during the week reminded me of the source of my daily strength and my eternal hope. Such an encouragement!
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.
Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.” -Psalm 68:19-20 (NIV)

Cancer: Not an Exact Science
Within a week after my surgery, I had a phone visit with my endocrinologist. She told me the path report from the wedge resection was not entirely conclusive, that thyroid cancer can sometimes mimic lung cancer. (Click here to read about a case.) What’s more, she’d conferred with my other specialists, urging them to send my tissue sample back East to a guru pathologist for another opinion, and she’d made arrangements to present my case to the Tumor Board at the medical center. By that time, my surgeon advised me to have a lobectomy of my right lung, but Lee and I decided to wait for the conclusions of the famous pathologist before opting for more surgery.

In God’s Hands

I emailed my sis-in-law on 3/31/17:

Thanks for calling. I know it’s not easy to talk about cancer. At least that’s the way I felt about it before I got it. Now, it’s like my ear picks up the word everywhere I turn. You two sound good. You can tell a lot by someone’s voice, and yours sounded compassionate.”

Thanks for coming by today to read my post.

Previous Post: Radioactive Iodine (RAI) Therapy
Next: Medical Connections

Part 5 posted on March 6, 2018.

10 thoughts on “Part 5, Wedge Resection of the Lung

  1. Another riveting post. It reads a bit like a mystery story, as you and your docs tried to determine what was really going on in your body. It doesn’t come through in the writing, but it must have been very frustrating and anxiety-provoking, getting to the bottom of things only gradually after multiple tests and procedures.

    1. Yes, the contradictory info was puzzling and put us in limbo, yet also put us in the position of making decisions about treatment. I suppose many cancer patients feel the same way. Thanks for commenting, Judy.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Norma. My heart hurts reading it, knowing how hard it must have been. I’m encouraged by your steadfast faith in the face of suffering and loss.

    1. Thank you, Laura. The only loss I feel so far is my voice, but the possibility of loss – yes, that’s hard. The only way I can face it is because God is with me.

  3. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, Norma. I have been reading along since your first post about this odyssey. Love the photos of you with family!

    1. Thanks for reading along, Diane. Glad you enjoyed the photos. I would post more recent ones if I had them, but I’m the picture-taker in the family. Fortunately, our kids grab one now and then.

  4. Really appreciate your comments — and the photo with the family. It brings everything so much closer.

  5. Norma, Praise the Lord for your strength and belief in Our God, the Great Physician. How are you doing these days? We have prayed at Bible Study-and I think of you often throughout the day as I go about my day. Love to a Very wonderful Sister in Christ. It has been now adults and all their children and your grandchildren.

    1. Your prayers – and the prayers of your Bible study members – are invaluable to me, Susan! Please give them a huge hug and thank you from me. May God bless you for lifting my spirits.

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