Interview with Patient 1
Reaction to diagnosis of lung cancer
DR LOVE: The first patient I visited with was a mature woman who received adjuvant treatment four years ago.
PATIENT 1: I am grateful for the opportunity to share some of my experiences. I really feel that communication is very, very important and it’s been much more successful with other cancers, and lung cancer is a hush-hush thing and it shouldn’t be. So, I’m happy I’m here. So, feel free, Dr Love, to just ask me anything.
DR LOVE: That sounds great. How old are you?
PATIENT 1: I’m 72 and I was diagnosed in ’05, I was 68.
DR LOVE: And what was going on in your life at that time?
PATIENT 1: I had just come home from a wonderful safari to Africa.
DR LOVE: Well, are you retired or working?
PATIENT 1: I’m a sculptor. So, sculptors never retire.
DR LOVE: Who’s at home with you? What’s your family constellation?
PATIENT 1: At this point, my husband and I have a very, very supportive family, which was extremely helpful. I have three children and one of my children – my daughter is a physician; she’s an ophthalmologist – so it was extremely helpful to have her as one of my advocates. Advocacy is very, very important during this – one of the greatest tests of my life.
DR LOVE: What happened where you find out you had a problem?
PATIENT 1: I have allergies and it seemed that a few years before the diagnosis, I developed a adult-onset asthma and I had a terrible cough. And my grandson said to me “Why don’t you have that checked.” So, I did. I had a chest x-ray and it was clear.
I came back from my adventure in Africa and three people, of my contemporaries, were diagnosed with lung cancer, all within a period of a few weeks. And I still had this cough and so I went to my doctor and he said, “Look, your chest x-ray’s fine. A cough is not usually an indication of lung cancer,” because I said “So and so, so and so and so on.” And he said, “But if you would feel more comfortable getting a CAT scan, that’s fine.” So that’s where we found it and it would not have been found by a chest x-ray. It was in the upper right lobe.
DR LOVE: Now, did you have any thoughts about maybe why you might have been diagnosed with lung cancer? Had you smoked in the past or do you smoke now?
PATIENT 1: I do not smoke now. I quit smoking in 1972. I did smoke. Very minimally. Maybe five or six cigarettes a day and in ’72, when I was, I think, 35. I quit smoking and hadn’t smoked since.