On Tuesday, August 2, 2005, at the age of 40 years and in seemingly excellent health, an evening commuter came crashing into my SUV. I quickly phoned 911. Within moments there were lights and sirens coming from every direction. The paramedics gently placed me onto a straight board and took me to the local hospital where I underwent a variety of tests to verify the extent of my injuries. By the time the tests were completed the ER room I had been assigned to was filled with my family and our family doctor, Dr. Ayisha Gani.
After a few hours of x-rays and tests the ER doctor told me he had “…good news and bad news”. He went on to say with surprise, “The good news is that there are no injuries, no fractures, nothing whatsoever as a result of the car accident.” Everyone was relieved, for a moment. “The bad news is there is something in your lower right lobe the size of my fist; we need to do some tests…” Dr. Gani, my personal physician explained to me that she was admitting me for additional tests which would more than likely involve a biopsy the following day.
The next day I had a biopsy performed and remained in the hospital while other family members made their way to Georgia. It was Thursday afternoon that Dr. Gani came to my hospital room with all of my family in the room and told me the news and said, “The biopsy results are in; there is a tumor growing in the lower right lobe; it has to come out right away, you have lung cancer.” I was shocked to hear this and asked if this was accurate. I asked her how this could have happened. Me? I never smoked and neither did my parents. How could I get lung cancer? I was then told it was the fastest growing type of cancer cell, Adenocarcenoma. I had lung cancer. I never smoked and neither did my parents.
Later that evening my three sons were brought to my hospital room. They were 12, 14 & 16 years old at the time. I proceeded to remind them of the phrase they had heard throughout their life, “God works in mysterious ways”. As I reminded them of this phrase I repeated for them the sequence of events that had played out over the past two days. I wanted to protect them from any unknown fears that the word “cancer” is typically associated with. They understood that surgery would be required and that the accident was one of “God’s mysterious ways” of letting me know there was something wrong inside me.
Two weeks later, at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Dr. John E. Moore performed the 14-hour surgery that would save my life. Dr. Moore removed the orange sized tumor from the middle and lower lobe of my right lung and 31 of my lymph nodes. At the time I was staged as “1b” but several years later a second pathology report indicated that I was actually at Stage III due to activity in a lymph node.
After 8 weeks of recovering from major surgery Dr. Moore installed a mediport which was the method of receiving 12 weekly treatments of chemotherapy (taxol & carboplatin) under the care of Dr. Thomas Seay of Atlanta Cancer Care. As of 12.30.05, my last chemo treatment, I have had no other cancer related issues. I continue to be closely monitored and screened.
I am a miracle. If it had not been for the auto accident I would not have known about the tumor in my lung. The cancer would more than likely have spread which would have been “too late” for treatment and I would have died in the spring of 2006. I am so blessed!