Survivor Spotlight: Vincent

Vincent getting ready to take a ride on his longboard.

By Vincent Wuellner

“There was an element of chance in my lung cancer diagnosis.  A coworker noticed a lump in the skin at the base of my neck and advised me to have it looked at.  It turned out to be nothing, but the x-ray image did show an area of concern in the upper lobe of my left lung. I was referred to a pulmonologist and had CT scans every six months for several years that showed the spot slowly growing and increasing in density.

The growth continued consistently with each scan, so I underwent a needle biopsy. The result was stage 1a non-small cell adenocarcinoma.

There is no doubt a cancer diagnosis gets your attention. I had just turned 57, was married to a wonderful woman, physically active, working full-time and was enjoying watching my son progress through high school.  Cancer was the last thing I wanted to deal with.

I quickly learned that surgery, a lobectomy, was the only treatment option available to me.  This was difficult for me to accept, and became my main concern.  I did a great deal of Internet research for an alternative treatment solution.  I experienced a lot of anxiety about the surgery, my main worry being potential breathing issues.  The irreversibility of the procedure frightened me; once the lobe was removed, it was gone forever.

My research led me to Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA), where I began reading blogs and articles, and was soon asking questions and getting prompt answers.  I really liked the site.  It felt like a community.  I was connected with a Phone Buddy; an amazing guy who had been through an experience very similar to my own.  This was a big step in my acceptance of having the surgery.

I underwent surgery at Moffitt Cancer Center on February 8, 2016, went home eight days later, and returned to work on March 18. Following my surgeon’s advice, I walked every day, first around the hospital and gradually made my way to one mile, then two.  In April, l started riding my longboard skateboards again, and now, a little over a year later, I often skate 20 miles or more on a free weekend.

My advice to anyone facing a lung cancer diagnosis?  Consider a second opinion. I didn’t feel comfortable with some of what I heard from the first surgeon I consulted, but was able to find a better option for me. Also, reach out to LCA for support, not only is it a great resource; I found it to be a community of caring people.  No matter how alone you feel, know there is a community supporting you and people who have walked in your shoes.”

Do you have questions about your lung cancer diagnosis or just need someone to talk to? Call us! 1-800-298-2436.