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Mar 13, 2018
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On February 7th, 2018, my mom (Elaine) was admitted at North Memorial Medical Center due to a high fever, rigors (excessive shaking), and low oxygen levels. It was later discovered she had a urinary tract infection, which was the cause of her symptoms. She remained hospitalized for two days while they determined the best antibiotic to treat the infection. Over the course of the two days, the fever and rigors subsided, and her oxygen levels normalized. When we spoke with a doctor in the hospital about the oxygen levels, we shared that my mom had smoked for many years in the past, but has not smoked for roughly 20-25 years. He decided to order a CT scan at that time, presumably due to her history of smoking. The next day, it was reported that my mom has a number of "nodules" in her left lung. The doctor noted these nodules could be fungus, scar tissue, or cancer, but referred her to a pulmonologist to examine the issue further. After consulting with the pulmonologist, and disagreeing with his course of action...which was to wait three months, then have another CT scan to determine if the nodules were growing, we made an appointment with a surgeon for another opinion. The surgeon agreed a biopsy of the largest nodule was reasonable. A biopsy was conducted on 3/6/2018.
We received the results of the biopsy on Friday, 3/9/2018. There are an 11mm nodule and two smaller nodules in the left lung. The 11mm nodule has a ground-glass appearance, while the other two appear solid. There are also a number of smaller, solid-looking nodules in the right lung. The biopsy was taken from the 11mm ground-glass nodule in her left lung, and was found to be malignant.
The diagnosis is Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. The 11mm cancerous nodule is an Adenocarcinoma.
My mom will have an MRI scan of her brain on Monday evening and a PET scan on Tuesday morning to examine whether there is cancer in other parts of her body. We will then meet with the surgeon on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the plan moving forward.
The recommended next steps are for my mom to have a robot-assisted surgery to remove the upper lobe of her left lung (Lobectomy). By removing the upper lobe, the 11mm cancerous nodule and two of the solid-looking nodules would be taken out of her body. This way, obviously, the cancerous nodule is removed, but also, the solid-looking nodules can then be examined to determine what they may be. It is likely that the solid-looking nodules in the left lung are the same as the solid-looking nodules in the right lung. There is a possibility the solid-looking nodules could be scar tissue, fungus, or another type of cancer. We won't know until they are examined. So, we also won't know the next steps (chemo/radiation, etc...) or prognosis/staging until after surgery...unless cancer is identified in another part of her body with the MRI and/or PET scans, which would mean cancer had metastasized, and the lung cancer would be considered Stage IV.
There are still a lot of unknown factors. More testing will lead to more answers and more decisions. I will update as we know more.