1st November 2021

Jackie Spotted the Difference

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Jackie wasn’t the least bit bothered about her cough; she’d had it “all her life”. However, after going away on a caravan holiday (we all know how noisy caravans can be!) her friend made her promise to go to the doctor. Thankfully, Jackie kept her promise…

“I had run four half marathons, number 10ks. I would run three times a week. I did regular spin class. My cough didn’t hamper any of it. It was just my cough than I had had my whole life but I kept my promise to my friend and I am so grateful that I did.

I made an appointment with the doctor as soon as we got back from our Arran holiday and my chest was completely clear. I was sat there feeling smug. However, the doctor said she wanted to send you for an x-ray because, even though my chest was completely clear, they needed to investigate the cough.

I went for the X-ray. We then went to New York for my husband’s 60th birthday and I forgot all about it. However, when I got home, I had a phone call to say that something showed up on the X-ray and that I was being referred to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary as an urgent case with suspected lung cancer.

Subsequent scans and test confirmed that I did in fact have lung cancer. I just couldn’t believe it. I was devastated. For me, lung cancer was a death sentence; if you got lung cancer, you died, simple as that and that’s when I started to think – how am I going to tell my family, my kids.

A happy ending

The consultant told me that they would remove the lower lobe of my right lung. He didn’t think it would make any difference to me because it wasn’t working anyway! I then asked him about afterwards. I presumed I would need further treatment, like chemotherapy but he said no. He said the surgery was all I’d need. To say I was delighted was an understatement!

So when I did tell my family the story I would start with – I have a story to tell you, but bear in mind has got a happy ending! I was able to tell that yes, I’ve got a tumour in my lung, but it’s coming out and I’ll be fine afterwards.

A slight twist in the story…

After surgery, I woke up in the high dependency unit. My husband and surgeon were there and the surgeon explained there had been some complications during the operation. The tumour was bigger than they anticipated and they had to take the lower and upper lobe of my lung, instead of just the lower lobe.

However, after they’d removed the two lobes, they couldn’t re-inflate the other part of the lung without the worry that if they’d left even just one cell behind, that tumour would grow again and I would need further treatment. The team therefore decided to take the whole lung.

I was devastated. I could see how can I was going to be able to live with just one lung? I had images of being sat in a corner with something to help me breathe and tubes in my nose or down my throat.

I now know that is certainly not the case.

I got exercises to do, which are so important. I then asked the surgeon if I was allowed to go back to my spin class! She made me promise to go easy but said I could go. I was out walking.

Now, when people ask ‘Can you live with one lung?’ I say ‘Of course you can live with one lung. I’m here telling you I’ve only got one lung!’

You can live a perfectly healthy, normal life with one lung definitely.”