Starting this journey - 1287674


Hi, i'm new to CancerGrace. My name is Joleen and I am here looking for advice as we found out last week my mom has a "fist sized mass" in her lung that is (so far) non-operable. We are waiting for my mom to have a pet scan, MRI and bronchoscopy/biopsy next week to learn more about type, staging, etc.

They also found a pleural effusion which did not show any malignancy. She had a thoracentesis that day, but says she feels worse since then and is unable to eat much at all as the mass is apparently pressing against her esophagus. Very nervous for the test results, and waiting for her to have a PEG tube placed in her throat that will hopefully allow her to get nutrition and gain strength. This all started with shortness of breath and an elevated D-Dimer test. We were expecting a clot, not this..

I realize i have not asked any questions in this thread, but do not know where to start. Any experiences, advice, etc would be greatly appreciated!



Hi jwelford,

Welcome to Grace. I'm so sorry your mom and you are going through this. First it's important to know while masses that size are often cancer it's also possible to be infection. If however it is cancer there is absolutely most hopes that she can do well. If it's cancer and hasn't metastasized it's possible to cure has of all cancer. Even if it is cancer and has metastasized it very probable that treatment can help her live life for some time. There are a growing number of people who have lived with a stage IV (metastatic lung cancer) for several years.

So there is good reason to hope your mom will see her grandbady and even help out with your baby.

I know how awful it is to wait and how slow things seem to move but it sounds like the process is moving forward about as rapidly as it can.

If she has difficulty with eating or with pain that needs immediate attention there's no reason to wait it out. A call into her doctor doing the work up or her primary care doctor should help.

All the best of luck to your mom and you and please keep up posted.


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Hi Janine,

Thank you so much for your reply and support! yes, the waiting is terrible. It feels like a balance between wanting time to speed up, but not wanting to get there and hear the results. My mom is being seen at Dartmouth Hitchcock in Lebanon, NH, which has (from what i hear) a great cancer program, so I am trying to stay hopeful. I truly hope that it has not spread (or is an infection like you said) and we can have her around for years more.

I will come back and update after our appointment Tuesday, and hope to have good news and/or a solid treatment plan.

Thanks again,

Posts: 635

Until the biopsy, they unfortunately can't set up a treatment plan if it is in fact cancer. A poster on another site has also had a mass which is anything 3cm and over and hers has turned out to be a fungus. All of these other tests and biopsy will get her to a diagnosis and stage again, if it's cancer. Do you know which lung and lobe? I went to Dartmouth for a second opinion back in 2010, my first go round with cancer. The second time I went to Boston, which has several top rated NCI cancer centers.
The thing to know is that LC is no longer a death sentence. Many new treatments are keeping people alive longer with quality of life. How old is your Mom? Is she in good health? Will check back next week and see how she makes out. Wishing her the best.
Take care, Judy
I am not a medical professional but a two time LC cancer survivor and advocate.

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Hi Judy,

Thank you for your reply! I was very much hoping for a fungus, but the biopsy yesterday confirmed SCLC. I am not sure which lung or lobe, but will check with her. My mom just turned 69 years old, is a breast cancer survivor (1996), and although a life-long smoker is otherwise in good health. After having the thoracentesis for the pleural effusion though, she was unable to get out of bed or eat for 1.5 weeks and is now very thin. The doctor told her yesterday that if she lost any more weight they would need to put in a stomach feeding tube.

My understanding is that the mass is 6cm. My mom kept saying 6", but I am going to assume cm!!

We got back from the hospital late last night, and they are supposed to call today to set up chemo treatments. I am unsure at this time of what type, how many, etc, but am hopeful that she will have a good response.

This has been a terrible time, and I am grateful to have found this site. I am feeling quite numb now, which is preferable to the initial shock and horror of hearing there was a mass and pleural effusion.

Judy, I am so happy to see that you are doing well years after diagnosis! I certainly hope that continues for many more, and thank you for your kindness.


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Joleen, I'm sorry to hear it turned out to be cancer. The PET scan would tell if it's spread anywhere else and the MRI checks the brain. SCLC responds well to first line chemo so I truly hope your Mom is a responder.
She needs to try hard to maintain her weight. Can she drink ok? If yes, then try Ensure. Once they start chemo, they should hydrate her using IV fluids. Wishing her all the best. There's also another website you might be interested in. Many of us there are dealing with LC or are caretakers for someone with LC. The site is You can join the Lung Cancer Survivors site and get much support.It's not a medical site but where others share experiences. Take care, Judy