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Author Topic: Terrified that I somehow have lung cancer - please help  (Read 241 times)

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Offline cameronj

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Terrified that I somehow have lung cancer - please help
« on: August 22, 2014, 06:14:38 PM »
So I had this little nagging tickle cough for about a month before I decided to see the doctor since I was going to be heading back to college. The cough was made worse by intense exercise and usually accompanied with some chest/sternum discomfort, but never a shortness of breath. I was convinced that there was something wrong with my heart, so when I went in to see my doctor, I told her all about it and she listened to both my heart and lungs and told me that they sounded great. She did decide to order a chest X-ray just because I had spent 2 weeks in Beijing and my cough only appeared after I had come back. My X-ray came back "practically" perfect (that's how my doctor described it) but the radiologist had found that there was some minor, minor bronchial inflammation (which I'm sort of believing was the early development of lung cancer) that my doctor said was most likely from spending 2 weeks breathing in polluted air. I forgot what it's called, but it was pretty much this like temporary asthma that is generally caused from spending time in a polluted environment (I'm trusting her on this since one of her specialities is in asthma and she is Mayo Clinic trained). She prescribed me a Z-pack and an asthma inhaler. I finished my Z-pack last Friday and apparently it continues to work in the body for another 10 days after that? and I'm supposed to use the inhaler for 30 days. So after I finished my Z-pack, which I was convinced was going to kill me due to the rare heart issues that can be caused by it, my chest pain had disappeared and my cough was basically gone. I completely forgot about it and on Monday I decided to go on a 42 mile (longest ride i've done in a while) bike ride of rolling hills with a friend. I didn't have any of the chest pain and only had some minor coughing, which was a substantial improvement from the previous week. Then on Tuesday, I decided to stop using my inhaler and on Wednesday I woke up with a little tickle cough, and when my doctor called me to ask how I was doing, which reminded me about everything, my cough was suddenly back. It is not a persistent cough and only occurs periodically throughout the day. I regret telling my doctor that I was 85-90% better because now I'm seriously questioning that and today, my chest/sternum discomfort is also somewhat back. I know it's extremely rare (only 0.3% of lung cancer cases are of people between 20 and 30 something) for a healthy, active, 21 year old non-smoker to end up with lung cancer, but I'm terrified that I have it and it was somehow missed! Of course, I made the mistake of googling "lung cancer in young people" and all of these articles came up about people in their 20s being diagnosed with lung cancer, and one of them, was a 29 year old who had been diagnosed with bronchitis, and then asthma, before her doctor decided to do a chest X-ray and only then did it show that it was lung cancer and it was stage 4 by that time. Then I did further research and read somewhere that CT scans are one of the best devices for detecting lung cancer. I feel like I really need to have a CT scan because I'm just so terrified that I have lung cancer and it was missed. My parents keep telling me that I'm perfectly fine and it usually takes decades for lung cancer to actually develop (hence why the average age is 70) and 90% of people diagnosed were/are smokers. That still leaves 10 percent of the cases and I just think that I somehow ended up in that 0.3% :(
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Offline AncientMelody

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Re: Terrified that I somehow have lung cancer - please help
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2014, 06:24:40 PM »
Lung cancer tends to look very different on a chest x ray than does bronchial inflammation. It sounds like you clearly realize that the long bike ride aggravated the cough. Even after an infection or inflammation has cleared, the lungs take some time to get back to 100%.

I would strongly advise against requesting a CT scan. These tests do have risks associated with the radiation exposure. I would recommend instead for intermittent follow-up with your doctor. Say a recheck in two weeks. Perhaps, if you are still symptomatic in another 4-6 weeks, a second chest xray to compare to the first. best of luck to you!
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Offline brittanyborg

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Re: Terrified that I somehow have lung cancer - please help
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2014, 06:27:55 PM »
My Grandpa died of lung cancer (before I actually ever really knew him to be honest) he died young, at 42. He was a chemical engineer and he worked for the government back in the day and day in and day out he was breathing in toxic fumes (as a career!) and back then they didn't have the kind of safety requirements or standards and air quality checks that we have now so his lungs were eventually poisoned to the point of no return (lung cancer).

My dad has told me so many stories about watching his dad (my grandpa) develop lung cancer. Although my dad was only 16 he says he remembers it like yesterday. When you have lung cancer Cameron, you know you have lung cancer. You can't breathe properly at all. You are constantly coughing to the point where you are coughing up disgusting discoloured mucus and blood. You cough to the point where you choke and your air supply is cut off. You have pain in your lungs, and you can feel the pain and discomfort and soreness. Lung cancer isn't something that doctors miss in North America. It's a very scary and lethal form of cancer which you would most certainly know if you had. Your doctor wouldn't be missing this. Also, to just develop lung cancer out of the blue - without being a smoker (for many years!) or having an extreme case like my grandpas (where he breathed in toxic fumes on the daily) it is so beyond rare I can't even explain.

The statistic you are talking about is 0.03%, do you realize that is less than half of a whole percent? You need to kill this worry because you do not have lung cancer. You just don't.
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Offline cameronj

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Re: Terrified that I somehow have lung cancer - please help
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2014, 06:31:16 PM »
Thank you for responding. Yes, deep down I realize that the bike ride aggravated the cough and I probably should have done a short bike ride and built my way back up. When I spoke with my doctor on the phone, she told me to be patient and it would take some time before I felt 100% better (probably why she told me to use the inhaler for 30 days).

That's an excellent point about the unnecessary radiation exposure. I was really really tempted to call her today and completely freak out over this but my mom told me to give it a week or two to see how I'm doing. That's a great idea about the second chest x-ray. Hopefully it won't be needed. Thank you!
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Offline cameronj

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Re: Terrified that I somehow have lung cancer - please help
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2014, 06:37:07 PM »
My Grandpa died of lung cancer (before I actually ever really knew him to be honest) he died young, at 42. He was a chemical engineer and he worked for the government back in the day and day in and day out he was breathing in toxic fumes (as a career!) and back then they didn't have the kind of safety requirements or standards and air quality checks that we have now so his lungs were eventually poisoned to the point of no return (lung cancer).

My dad has told me so many stories about watching his dad (my grandpa) develop lung cancer. Although my dad was only 16 he says he remembers it like yesterday. When you have lung cancer Cameron, you know you have lung cancer. You can't breathe properly at all. You are constantly coughing to the point where you are coughing up disgusting discoloured mucus and blood. You cough to the point where you choke and your air supply is cut off. You have pain in your lungs, and you can feel the pain and discomfort and soreness. Lung cancer isn't something that doctors miss in North America. It's a very scary and lethal form of cancer which you would most certainly know if you had. Your doctor wouldn't be missing this. Also, to just develop lung cancer out of the blue - without being a smoker (for many years!) or having an extreme case like my grandpas (where he breathed in toxic fumes on the daily) it is so beyond rare I can't even explain.

The statistic you are talking about is 0.03%, do you realize that is less than half of a whole percent? You need to kill this worry because you do not have lung cancer. You just don't.

Hi Brittany,

Thank you for sharing your story about your grandpa.

That's a really good point. I doubt I would be able to continue working out if I had lung cancer. My mom's dad had lung cancer and she told me that he was pretty much winded and needed to sit down after just walking across a room. I also assume that all of the symptoms would be persistent and progressively getting worse, not just coming and going throughout the day.

Ahh, I know it's completely illogical and there's probably a million benign reasons for why my cough is back, but I think the fact that lung cancer is so lethal is what terrifies me the most about it.
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Offline sixpack

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Re: Terrified that I somehow have lung cancer - please help
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2014, 06:52:48 PM »
are you not 21 or so?


right there, absent some weird arsed, freaksihly bad luck, is enough evidence, for me, that you don't have lung cancer.



you don't have lung cancer.  you have anxiety disorder that fools you into thinking minor aches/pains and ailments are  deadly diseases.

Quit looking for zebras when the horses are standing right in front of you.
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MOST anxiety occurs on a subconscious level.  JUST because you don't feel consciously anxious or had a day or two of calm doesn't mean your mind & body are relaxed.  It can take months of reduced anxiety before a body goes back to a more non-reactive state

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