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August Survivor Spotlight - Jim Dennison

  • August 19 2015

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    August Survivor Spotlight - Jim Dennison
    Jim Dennison is our featured survivor of the month for August. 

    I was diagnosed with lung cancer in February of 2004. To this day I still don’t know what stage it was because my case wasn’t typical. It had actually taken multiple doctors three months to come to that diagnosis. My symptoms looked like lung cancer, but I had no tumors in the lung itself. My lung cancer was located near the joining of the lung and windpipe.  Once they found it, they told me I was a candidate for surgery.

    Lung cancer wasn’t new to me. My father had died of the disease in 1987. Still, when it happens to it’s a shock. I know it will sound stupid, but I watched Star Trek for 6 hours a day to help me relax and get over the stress of diagnosis and immediate surgery. After a few weeks I could talk about it and ask questions. Lots of questions! I was one of the lucky patients who only had three rounds of chemotherapy.

    I did my best to maintain a hopeful attitude through it all by staying connected with those who mean the most to me. My entire family has been instrumental in supporting me with anything related to my lung cancer. My younger brother drove me to all my appointments even though he lived an hour or so away from me. My sister and older brother were always calling to check in and my ex-wife and coworkers were a huge help in helping me maintain a healthy attitude.

    My wife has put up with all the ups and downs associated with ongoing care and the emotional strain that goes along with it. She has stepped up to stand for the cause with me, helping me with Free to Breathe events. I’m so grateful for the outpouring of support I have received. It really does help when things get tough.

    After being cancer-free for 5 years I was not allowed any more CT scans for fear of the radiation causing new cancer. I had been used to the reassurance I got from the 6 month CT scans, so when they stopped I found myself worrying about the unknown. I knew I needed to channel my worries into something productive.

    I looked around the internet and joined a few discussion groups, but they were too negative and self defeating for me. I just happened to stumble across the National Lung Cancer Partnership, now called Free To Breathe, and I found a group of people who were excited about helping people with lung cancer and had a great positive attitude towards that goal. 

    After seeing that the closest Free to Breathe event was in Philadelphia, I volunteered to put on an event in New Jersey. It has been an amazing gift to me as I have meet so many new people who have gone through the challenge of a diagnosis and others who have suffered a loss. One of the great things about these events is it shows we are all in this together.

    Even to this day, my main challenge is attitude. I sometimes stop and think of my surgery and it sends chills up my spine. I sometimes worry about a re-occurrence.  But, I catch myself and direct that misguided energy to something positive. I always try to stay in the day.

    To newly diagnosed patients, my advice to you is to stay positive and fight. Learn all you can about your disease and what treatments are available to you. Discuss EVERYTHING with your doctor. Keep moving yourself in the right direction and don’t ever lose hope. 

    4 comments

Comments

  1. Tina Griffith 03:10pm, 08/19/2015

    I also was diagnosed with lung cancer ..small cell .. went thru surgery. .radiation. .chemotherapy. . Dr. Said it was gone 1yr. Later my CT scan showed a 10mm something ..I’m waiting on the 14th of September to have another scan to see what Avenue I take next .. yes I know the anxious feelings .. this free to breathe .. do we have this in Augusta Ga ??

  2. Pennie Rankin 03:22pm, 08/19/2015

    My husband was diagnosed 6 months ago,  adenocarcinoma stage 4 Lung Cancer.  Surgery was not an option according to the oncologist. My husband: Are YOU a surgeon? Oncologist: No. Husband: Then send me to someone who is, because I won’t accept that answer from you. 4 days later he had surgery! My husband responded better than expected with his course of treatment, only 4 chemo treatments (not 6-8)and 3 radiation treatments. He had a PET Scan 2 months ago- Clear. He had another 2 days ago, and we get results next week. Praying for more good news! Thank you for sharing your story. It is very inspiring and gives me hope.

  3. Michelle 04:11pm, 08/19/2015

    My dilemma is this….I was diagnosed with stage 3 adenocarcinoma 1 1/2 years ago. After 2 rounds of chemo, then surgery to remove a lobe, then two more rounds of chemo, I was considered in remission. Now my doc says after care requires ct scans without contrast every six months. Doc at moffit cancer center says with contrast every 3 months. Who do I listen to??

  4. Elaine Hudson 01:53pm, 09/10/2015

    I have just been diagnosed with small cell lung cancer,I am 57 and an x smoker for 35 years.I gave that up this year thank the good Lord.I am so very scared, I start treatment at the fl hospital cancer institute next week.The unknown is the hardest for me but I know my faith in God will qet me though.Everything happens for a reason,I will help teach others of the consoqences of smoking and drinking alcohol. Thanks for listening. Elaine

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