Mr. McCullough your heart is fine, but there appears to be a concern with your lung.

With that began the scariest, most uncertain 45 days of my life.

It all started with an innocent physical. I’m a mid forties black guy (why the ‘black’ thing is relevant?) with a family history of heart issues, for me getting the ol ticker thoroughly examined is as common as opening wide and saying ah.

My doctor suggested I undergo a calcium scoring test, just to make sure my cardiac plumbing is clear. I’m fortunate to have a well-trained, young physician who is well-versed in the latest diagnostic bells and whistles.

So I take the test, expecting the same results I’ve received with every heart test since I turned 40 – everything is fine.

A couple of days later (the fact that the results came so fast should have been my first clue) I got the call: heart – good, right lung – “when can you come in and talk Mr. McCullough?” The intrepid radiologist who initially examined the test took a look northwest of my ticker and discovered what appeared to be a lesion on my lung.

I won’t bore you with the fear and anxiety that saturated my mind in those days following that call. Instead, let’s fast forward to Friday, October 22. I think it was around 5:00 pm in my room at Emory University Hospital Midtown. I don’t exactly recall the time because I was still post operatively hazy and trying to manage the blinding, fiery discomfort that is the Foley catheter.

Zoe walking with Lurch from the Addams Family, and no, that gold liquid ain't Chardonnay!

My thoracic surgeon – oh yeah, we’re way beyond the general practitioner stage – arrives and tells Carla and me that the mass on my lung was an adenocarcinoma, which required the removal of the upper lobe of my right lung. Yup, I had a form of lung cancer that was treated by removing a chuck of my lung.

The lump, the lung chunk and a few lymph nodes are undergoing further testing.

We’re optimistic (as you should be) that all will be well.

Besides having a couple of cool new scars on my upper back and getting the remaining two-thirds of my right lung back in shape, one week after surgery I’m doing pretty well.

So how does a non-smoker with no family history contract lung cancer? No one seems to know. I’m just thankful for a bunch of things – not the least of which are, a great family, great doctors and most importantly, the ability to take a breath and say I survived lung cancer (and let’s pray it stays that way)!



  1. Lisa Oliver


    WOW. Blown away. Thank God for family, good doctors, and health insurance.

    Funny thing happen to me 2 weeks ago. Went in to see the cardiologist (I have a defibrillator) for my quarterly exam, I received the same type of call: “Mrs. Oliver your heart is fine, however we are concern about your gluclose levels…” long story short – Type II Diabetes. (Now that I think of it, in 7th grade, Mr. Weaver, had Type I Diabetes.)

    John take care; I see you are in good hand with Zoe and nurse-to-be Carla!



    • Midlifer

      Hey Lisa!

      Well the good news for both of us, our hearts are healthy!

      You’re right about the insurance. I just got the statement and we could have bought a BMW for what it cost to get my little lung job done!


  2. Rosemary

    Can I be thankful too? Thankful you’re here, thankful you shared, thankful for the chipper smile in the photo above and for the beautiful girl beside you. And praying right alongside you!

    Big hugs & warm thoughts,


  3. The Diva

    I’m really glad you’re okay! Sorry you had such a bad scare. Sometimes life tosses you quite the curveball, eh?

    Sending good thoughts your way. Hang in there.


  4. Mims Friedman Mast

    I am so sorry not to have sent you good healing vibes until now. I will say the misheberach—prayer for healing asap! I empathize wholeheartedly and will be in touch soon!
    with love,


  5. Edwina

    It’s enough to make you wonder why bother with all the discipline, huh? Just lay back and pass the ciggies and the remote control.

    Good to hear that you’re well on the road to recovery.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s