NFR The Roller Coaster Ride and the "C" Word


"Chasing Riseforms"
So, I got a new doctor when I went on Medicare in June. Checked me out pretty well and asked about my previous health condtions. I mentioned that I apparently had been exposed to asbestos when I was 18 years old for a period of 3 months, and, that the VA Clinic had x-rays that revealed such exposure by showing some sort of calcifications on my lungs some 10 years ago. He decided I should have an x-ray and a followup x-ray in 6 months or so. Well November rolled around for a check up with my doctor again and he had a followup xray then on November 15. It showed a “spot” on my lung. So, he ordered a CT Scan. More spots and nodes showed up. It was supposedly not good news and possible cancer on my lungs. So, the next thing was a CT PET Scan, which was done on December 6. A follow-up appointment with the Pulmonary doctor on December 10. By this time, I was becoming a nervous wreck to think that I might have cancer in my lungs. Well, the pulmonary doctor met with me and was pretty certain that I had cancer. The worst, mesothelioma lung cancer. I was petrified. He even gave me a book titled “Understanding Mesothelioma”. My life flashed before my eyes, and kept flashing. Thought after thought of leaving my family, what I would say to my son, my friends. How long would I live? How would I die? What would that be like? Etc. I was devastated.

The next step was that I was supposed to get a biopsy to confirm, even though my pulmonary doctor was indicating how certain he was in his diagnosis. I was to get a needle biopsy on December 18. Before all of this beginning in mid November, I was feeling pretty much fine. Reading the internet is a mistake when it comes to health questions, but we all do it. I could not come up with any symptoms of anything. But yet, I thought I was facing a sure death with maybe 8 months to live, maybe even 4. My mind was not convinced this was all true. So, I made it through Thanksgiving and was facing Xmas holidays. December 18 came and it was time for the needle biopsy. It didn’t work. They couldn’t poke the needle in this hard tissure they were trying to get a sample from. So, I was faced with a surgery biopsy. Ah, but it was Xmas time. Delayed until January 6. I made it through Xmas and the 6th came. From November to January, I cried several times while talking to my doctors in their offices. My surgeon that was to do the biopsy thought it looked like cancer in my lungs also. The biopsy was on Monday. The doctor came to my bedside afterward and said it looked like mesothelioma cancer. I was told I had the best surgeon around. I wasn’t too happy of the news that day. I was in the hospital recovering all that week. On Wednesday, my surgeon came in and said, “Well, the pathologist is not convinced that it is mesothelioma cancer”. A ray of hope overcame me… only a ray. The next morning my surgeon came and and said, “Well, the pathologist has a number of samples and says he does not see any mesothelioma cancer.” He was smiling and so was I. But, they wanted to send the samples down to the Mayo Clinic expert pathologist to have a look. Apparently, my lung scans showed a number of abnormalties.

In the meantime, I got out of the hospital. After two weeks, on January 20, to mellow out while waiting for the report, I went fishing that day. While wading the beach, I felt this pressure on my chest all day. I was thinking, “swell, here come the first symptoms of whatever the hell is my lung problem”. That evening, I had a heart attack!! I was smart enough to call 911 which probably saved my life. I got to the hosptial within 30 minutes and they had a Stent put in one of my main ateries to my heart in 40 minutes. It saved my life and no heart damage. Also thank the EMT’s. I guess you call that piece of luck #2.

It took 3 weeks to hear anything about my biopsy!! On January 31, I met my surgeon and he read the report from the Mayo Clinic and said I don’t have cancer. NO CANCER!! The doctors had it wrong! Let me tell you, I was as happy as a clam at high tide. Piece of luck #3. This all took place in 2-1/2 month time period. A long waiting period of hell. Let me tell you, I have a different outlook on life! Talk about having “ups and downs”. It was a real roller-coaster ride that I don’t want to do again or can describe. I do have to have a followup scan again in June to be sure there aren’t any negative changes to my lungs, but, I can tell you all, I am feeling absolutely great. I’ve been walking everyday since my heart attack (up to 3 miles now) and have plenty of energy and feel no different than before, maybe better. I’ve lost 10 pounds and watching my diet as much as possible. Life is good and I am a Lucky Man! I saw my cardiologist today and he was quite pleased. He said no heart damage and I asked if I could hike 10 miles. The answer was yes! You poor guys on here are stuck with me for a good time longer!!! Tight Lines!
Really glad to hear that you came out of it no worse for the wear. The entire ordeal sounds incredibly taxing. I got to experience a similar thing with my boss and close friend over the last year only he was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 43. Never smoked a single.cigarette and was runner in college.and an acid runner into his 40s. Luckily his cancer was not metastatic and a partial lobectomy took care of it.completely. it really is nothing to play around with.

Again, my condolences for what you had to go through and I'm glad you're ok! Thanks for being a great contributor here.
WOOT! Thanks for fleshing out the story DFL, I was concerned when you told me about it in Dec. Such a relief for you and your family, in a way its is kind of a mixed blessing in that you now cherish life and what you have so much more. Those trips to fish will be so much sweeter now! Congrats and I am please we will have you around for awhile longer :)
Be safe bud and have fun!


Active Member
Glad your diagnoses was negative. But does bring up a some interesting concerns of what is wrong with our health care system.


The wanted posters say Tim Hartman
Glad to hear that you're gonna be around for awhile longer, Larry! Your story is a reminder that we all should be really proactive in not only taking care of our own health but in dealing with our health care system! Tight lines to ya!!!
Good grief Larry, thats scary shit! I am beyond thrilled that you came through itbwith flying colors. You simply cant be leaving us that early my friend, there are still so many coho out there waiting to pounce on your popper!

Ill be looking forward to fishing with a healthy, although im sure still just a bit crotchety, DFL again this summer.


"Chasing Riseforms"
Thanks for the kind words all. It is friends like you that kept me going while trying to stay positive through this ordeal. A couple of words of advice here. Avoid exposure to asbestos at all costs! I worked in a laundromat when I was about 17-18 that washed clothes for the shipyard. (Listen to me Nick!) It was a 3 month part-time gig. I never smoked except a dabble in college. Part of my exposure may have been that I grew up with my father being a shipyard worker and may have been exposed to asbestos that way also.
And, one final note regarding heart attack or any emergency situation. DON'T EVEN hesitate to call 911. It will save your life! And for those that don't know, Harrison Hospital in Bremerton has one of the "best" cardiac care units around and are getting a reputation.