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.
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)!