The second most common lung cancer related question I am asked is, “What were your symptoms?” Here is a list of things I remember and feel were directly related to me having lung cancer.
- Shortness of breath. While on runs I would not be able to take in a chest full of air. While climbing routes I’d come to the ground and feel winded. When I complained to the docs about this feeling it was dismissed because I was 34 and still able to run for an hour or two. I was given an asthma test, then an inhaler by my general practitioner (GP).
- Persistent cough. I had a cough that once it started, it never went away. Docs prescribed me bronchitis meds and pneumonia meds.
- Coughing up blood. This was rather scary. I was enjoying the backyard in the sunshine when I got a horrible coughing attack. This time I produced blood. I’m not talking small specs, think teaspoons/tablespoons full. From that day forward I’d have an episode every day or every few days. At this point I got a new GP, she ordered a chest X-ray and a tuberculosis test.
- Lost my voice. I was shopping with my mom and niece when my voice decided to go on a vacation. On the inside my tumor had grown large enough to apply pressure on my recurrent laryngeal nerve– which caused me to loose my voice.
- Collapsed lung. This made it rather difficult for me to breathe. However, with pain in a particular location it was easier for docs to figure out what was going on. It felt like I was breathing in a crinkled up paper bag. As I would inhale I could feel each crinkle expanding to let air in. This was quite painful.
If you experience any of these things you should go to the doctor AND request an X-ray.
Oh, and the first most common lung cancer related question I am asked is, “Do you smoke?” Really?!?! If I answered yes would that mean I deserve lung cancer and it is ok for it to kill me?