it takes your breath away
September 28, 2012
I got my PET scan and my line out of my chest on Wednesday as planned. It went surprisingly well–I thought getting the line out would hurt more, but it wasn’t too bad.
Today was a pretty crucial day: the day we would get the results from the PET scan and discuss radiation…so we thought. To knock out some of my anxiousness about today, I was happy to have my film crew buddies visit this morning to work on the documentary today and to capture meeting with the doctor.
I thought we’d be talking a lot about the PET scan and radiation, but we actually only touched on that matter because apparently there is another issue at hand that is more of a priority. Although my fever went away from the virus a few weeks ago, my cough never did. But more importantly, I have been short of breath which I first dismissed as being “out of shape” since I haven’t be able to exercise much in isolation, and then I thought since I had sinus congestion due the fall weather, maybe I was just breathing out of my mouth more. But especially today, I could tell that getting physically fatigued this easily was abnormal.
As the doctors pressed their stethoscopes to my back and listened as I inhaled, I could tell they were concerned about what they were hearing. A problem that some stem cell transplant patients experience that doctors look for around Day 30, which I just had last week, is Pulmonary toxicity (damage to the lungs) resulting from a specific type of chemotherapy used during the SCT. After discussing my shortness of breath and listening to my lungs, my oncologist, Dr. Morgan, decided to go ahead and schedule a pulmonary function test (PFT) and a high-resolution CT scan this afternoon immediately following our appointment.
His sense of urgency to schedule those appointments told me that my little out-of-breath issue was a bigger deal than I initially thought. The PFT and the scan were to determine if my we were looking at an infection in the lungs that could be treated with antibiotics or inflammation of the lungs due to the chemo in which I would have to be treated with steroids. Dr. Morgan stated that he was hoping it was just an infection.
But he called us tonight and told us that after comparing my lung tests from before the SCT with the ones from today, there was strong evidence that the chemo had done some damage to my lung function. So in order to prevent further damage and keep the inflammation from turning into permanent scar tissue, I am starting my steroids tomorrow.
I know things are going to be ok and work out, I just really want to finish school next semester. These next few weeks of steroids kind of put a dent in my plans because treating my lung issue is further delaying the process of getting the radiation over with, if it is needed, in time to go back to college in January. I just want to be done with this, and not just for the next few months, but for good. Forever.
I think staying positive is relatively easy for me. It’s the staying patient that’s the hard part.
IN A NUTSHELL
- Due to the toxicity of a chemo drug used during SCT, I have been experiencing shortness of breath resulting from what tests showed to be injury to my lung function/ inflammation in my lungs
- I have to take steroids for a few weeks to get the inflammation under control and to prevent permanent damage
- The question of radiation still remains to be discussed after my lung problem is resolved
- I’m praying for healing, patience, and that this delay won’t be significant enough to keep me from returning to college next semester