Bonnie Steele – Limited Small Cell Lung Cancer

Hi, my name is Bonnie and I am 50 with a husband, daughter 15 and son 9.

My life had been going along as hectic as ever. I had a couple of business trips and one of them was to Hilton Head on April 1, 2000. I had this nagging cough with blood for about a month so thought I better go to the Dr. before going on the trip to make sure I wasn’t getting sick. He took a chest x-ray and informed me it was Walking Pneumonia, gave me a prescription and sent me on my way. The following weekend after I had returned, my son and I both got really sick with colds. He got better, I didn’t. I went back to the doctor the following week and he gave me another prescription but told me to make an appointment at the St. Paul Radiology for a CT scan. That appointment was on April 28th. Was informed there was something on my lung, and I had should make an appointment to have a Bronchoscope. I believe at this point, deep down I knew I had cancer but until I was told on May 9th that it was cancer, I still held out hope it was something else.

Once I received the diagnosis on May 9th, my whole world fell apart. I was an emotional wreck! My doctor gave me a number to call to set up an appointment with an Oncologist. I called there and asked for whoever was available first. My appointment was on May 12th. I went in with my husband who took notes since neither of us would remember what was said. I was diagnosed with localized small cell lung cancer (due to smoking which I quit immediately). I had a 3cmx2-1/2cm on my right lung and two 2.8cmx1.2cm in my lymph nodes in the middle of the lungs.

Things started to roll then. May 13th for an MRI, May 15 for a bone scan, May 16 to a Radiology Oncologist for results of these tests and all came out O.K. with no further cancer found.

In the midst of all this, my daughter got confirmed and I felt so bad since it is the first time we haven’t had a family get together for a special occasion. But my daughter was just fine with going to the Olive Garden with us and her god-parents.

I think I cried for the first 2 or 3 weeks after I was diagnosed. I cried on my husband’s shoulder, in front of the kids, relatives, friends, etc. I just couldn’t seem to snap out of the depression I was in.

Then I started to talk with a gal I worked with who was also diagnosed with small cell New Years Eve of ’99. She came back to work and was in such high spirits and doing so well, I really thought I was going to come out of this just like her.

Even though I started to feel better emotionally, I asked my Doctor for sleeping pills and anti-depressants. I’m not the type of person who can take everything in stride. I feel the anti-depressants have really helped me through and not to worry so much about my Cancer.

I started chemo May 17th (Cisplatin and VP16), 3 days a week, every 3 weeks for 4 cycles and radiation (42 treatments). I was a little nauseous and out of sorts for about 3 days after chemo but seemed to handle it pretty well. Radiation did make my esophagus sore so I couldn’t eat very well but I got through that also. Finished radiation on July 18th and chemo on July 31. Then had to wait until August 21 to do CT scans.

On August 25th my Oncologist said he couldn’t find a trace of cancer. I jumped for joy and cried and praised the Lord!!

Then I went on 9/11 for MRI to the head. I was so scared that the cancer had spread to the brain but the results showed no cancer, praise the Lord!!

9/13 started preventative brain radiation for 14 treatments. These went pretty well.

Through all this I had joined a Lung Cancer Support Group and a church cancer support group. I have learned a lot from the Lung group and especially things to ask my Oncologist or Radiation Oncologist. I also have made some very good friends. I needed the spiritual support because once I was diagnosed, my whole outlook on life changed. I became less judgmental, and would sit outside for hours just admiring the gifts from God and asking Him everyday for healing and forgiveness.

Also, my friend from work who has small cell, had gone in for an MRI because she was going to have preventative brain radiation and they wanted to make sure there was no cancer in the head. Unfortunately, there were 6 cancerous spots. When I found this out I thought I would end up the same. I was devastated. She had radiation to the brain but had stronger doses than for preventative. She and her husband are traveling now and she knows her months are numbered but her spirits are high and I’m sure she walks with Jesus by her side.

My Oncologist gave me a name of a research person for a randomized limited disease small cell lung cancer vaccine study. I am very excited about this study, and feel even if I don’t get the vaccine which is supposed to reduce the risk of getting this cancer back, I will be helping with cancer research for everyone.

October 28th, 2000 Well I did get accepted into the trial am in the treatment group. I started this last Thursday with 8 shots in one arm. In two weeks I will go back in for another 8 in the other arm then in the right leg then in the left leg. Very interesting going through this but hopefully it will help.

So far, this is my story. I am a survivor for 6-1/2 months now and am looking forward to every new day that I wake up to.

This CancerGuide Page By Bonnie Steele. © Bonnie Steele
Last Updated: October 28, 2000